York Unlocked CIO

York Unlocked CIO

At a glance


  • Education
  • Local / community
  • Museums / heritage

Other details

Organisation type: 
Geographical remit: 


York Unlocked is a York-based charity made up of a dedicated team of fourteen voluntary core team members and trustees who deliver the planning and outcomes of the project. We are supported by a wider team of around sixty volunteers who help to run activities such as our October weekend event, as well as our Education Day, and other activities throughout the year. The main focus of York Unlocked is delivering our weekend event in October, which sees around sixty architecturally significant buildings open their doors to the public free of charge. York Unlocked also piloted an Education Day in October 2022, and is aiming to expand its programme throughout 2023 and future years to include collaborations which will deliver talks, tours, digital access, and co-created art projects and more, should funding allow.

We are an inclusive charity. We deliver education about the city’s built heritage assets (buildings, churches, halls, public spaces) to the public and school children in a way that results in high levels of engagement and community interaction with hidden spaces. We purposefully aim to reach people on lower incomes, those from diverse backgrounds, people with protected characteristics, as well as day-trippers and domestic and international tourists who travel to enjoy the built heritage delights of York. 

The buildings included in the event are usually closed to the public; for instance, many are privately owned. This project opens these buildings up to the public free of charge, which is a key tool in teaching people about York’s built heritage and enabling people to have an informed opinion on future planning development in the city.


York Unlocked has four aims:

1. To educate and inspire discussion on the value of architecture and urban design excellence across all sectors of our diverse communities, from decision-makers through to young people.

2. To foster public awareness and appreciation of York’s architecture and the built environment.

3. To celebrate and showcase outstanding examples of architecture from York's wealth of buildings.

4. To encourage civic pride and built heritage interaction amongst York’s residential and business communities.

The 2022 event:

York Unlocked launched its first, very successful, free event over the weekend of 14th – 16th October 2022 when the charity coordinated and curated the opening of 60 buildings that are usually closed to the public. The first day, Friday 14th October, was exclusively reserved for local school children. Saturday 15th October and Sunday 16th October offered access for the public. All participating buildings could be accessed free of charge. Some buildings had restricted access on the day of the event; either a set number of visitors allowed at one time, or ticketed entry, due to their age, size or condition. This was managed by a reservations system that we hosted.

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