Museums, Newcastle upon Tyne
The Laing is home to an impressive collection of art and sculpture and its exhibition programme is renowned for bringing the biggest names in historic, modern and contemporary art to the North East.
The Gallery has a packed programme of free events which include gallery talks, family activities and artists’ events.
The impressive permanent collection can be enjoyed throughout the season with important paintings by John Martin, William Holman-Hunt, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema and sculpture by Henry Moore, amongst others.
There are events throughout the year including talks from leading contemporary artists and fun activities for families. Many of these events, like the gallery, are free of charge.
The works on show change regularly to show the impressive range of art in the collection so please contact the gallery if you wish to see a particular piece of work.
There is also a shop and café.
With the kids off school keeping them occupied and active on a very rainy day could be a chore. Pop along to the Hancock museum in Newcastle and problem solved. It's free, it's quirky and it passes a few fun filled hours. Stuffed animals, live reptiles, and many artefacts. They also have show in a planetarium (at a cost of around 7.20. - 9.50 for a family ticket.
The Great North Museum was for many years called The Hancock museum and to me it always will be! Named after the man who built it, there is a statue of him outside and his name across the museam front. I don't pretend to know who he was although i'm sure i knew at one time and have forgotton.
The Hancock is basically a natural history museam containing sections on animals (including huge stuffed animals), dinosaurs, local roman history and much more. They have a small room called the mouse house in which they sometimes have childrens activities. Some tanks dotted about with live animals in. Some lizards, a snake and water tanks with shrimps etc. Plenty of toilets and a cafe. Cafe quite pricey but you are free to take in your own food and drinks, Not many places to sit or benches dotted about though. A gift shop at the entrance selling the usual. Small grassy area outside the main entrance uf the weather is nice.
The best thing of all is that this place is free! You will have to pay to see some special exhibitions but there is plenty free to see. My son (3 years old) loves this place and we visit often.
This Museum is free to visit. Even if the Art collection seem somewhat limited it's still a nice visit. Some of the" great" British artists on display are Burne Jones, Spencer and works by Johan Martin. Also some of the 20th century artists. Some local paintings may interest you. There are also exhibitions and a Museum shop at the enterance.
Monday to Saturday 10am - 5pm, Sunday 2pm - 5pm
Closed: 25 & 26 December & 1 January.
The Discovery Museum is perhaps more popular with kids than with adults though there are a couple of exhibitions which adults will enjoy too. The People section had a display on punk music from the 70s with particular emphasis lesser known punk bands from the north east.
We also enjoyed the Newcastle through the ages display which has a good overview of the towns history from Roman times up to the present day. Local people who had lived in a particular time had written accounts of Newcastle at that time. Almost all seemed to prefer Newcastle as it was, despite the poverty and destitution. It was a more friendly, less dangerous place apparently.
There are many more exhibitions including a science maze and a section on shipbuilding on Tyneside. The museum is in the west part of the city admission is free.
If you visit just one museum in Newcastle make it the Laing Art Gallery, which has an excellent collection of 18th and 19th century paintings by British artists, and some interesting sculptures and glasswork.
Admission to the Gallery is free and it’s in a great location on New Bridge Street in the centre of town. There are two floors in the museum though most of the collection is in the there rooms on the first floor.
Among the most impressive paintings are those by the 19th century Northumberland artist John Martin. My favourite painting was Martin’s “The Bard” which shows a Welsh Bard about to commit suicide during an attack by the English Army.
A useful leaflet lists the Laing's own choice of Top10 exhibits though the collection is sufficiently small that you can see everything in an hour or less.
Bessie Surtees was the daughter of Aubone Surtees, a wealthy merchant who lived on the Quayside in Newcastle in the latter part of the eighteenth century. When she fell in love with John Scott, a coal merchant's son, the match was frowned upon. So the headstrong Bessie climbed out of a first floor window and eloped to Scotland.
This house, though, has more than just romantic significance. It provides a rare example f well preserved domestic architecture from the Jacobean period. It stands five stories high, with each floor slightly overhanging the one below, and the windows extending across the full width of the house.
Inside, the heavy oak panelling, elaborate plaster ceilings and ornate chimney pieces show why a rich merchant considered himself several notches above a coal merchant in the social order of the day.
English Heritage Property
Open Monday to Friday all year long (10.00am to 4.00pm)
Closed bank holidays
Here's a rarity, a FREE English Heritage property! It's a tall Jacobean house of 1657 with extraordinary plasterwork, wood carvings and panelling. As a merchant's home it would have had a shop in the ground floor and living quarters above.
'Bessie' was the wilful daughter of a wealthy merchant who fell in love with the son of a local coal trader. She eloped through a window to marry him in Scotland. Her new husband trained to become a lawyer, earned a title and served as the Lord Chancellor of England. So he proved to be a good catch after all (especially when you see which window Bessie jumped from).
The house was rescued from near dereliction in the 1930s and fitted out with bits rescued from other local houses of the period. You will be treated to some fine fireplaces, decorative ironwork and mullioned windows that offer glimpses of the Tyne Bridge. Open weekdays 10-4.
I don't often go ga-ga over a Tourist Info Centre and this is probably the first tip I've dedicated to a TIC.
Gateshead's brilliant TIC is in the old St Mary's Church next to the Sage Centre. The decommissioned church has arefacts from its long and eventful history on view, including stones flung across the river by an explosion in 1854.
A magnificent job has been done in restoring the church after a fire in 1979. A shop, a selection of quality local crafts and interpretive panels now sit amid the remaining original features. These include memorials, a Saxon cross and masonry which may have been plundered from the Roman bridge. You can pick up your tourist leaflets, do some shopping and see some historical bits all in one entertaining visit.
Built as it so happens to commemerate the turning of the millenium this modern and slick looking bridge spans the Tyne in a majestic curve.
The bridge swings upwards to allow ships to pass safely under, surely a timeless piece of architecture and a sight not to be missed on any visit to Newcastle. Plus its FREE!!
The discovery museum is located in the former co-op society distribution warehouse.
A very modern and well-though out museum has been inserted into the innards.
The Museum is clearly aiming mainly at a younger auidence, but two galleries in particular will also be of interest to adult visitors.
One exhibition follows the story of Newcastle right from pre-historic times up to the present day. It mainly concentrates on the 20th century - with tableaux and artifacts from each of the decades. It is somewhat disconcerting to see everyday objects you grew up with being displayed to gawping children who can't work out how you managed to live in such a backward and unsophisticated world.
Another gallery looks at the Tyne, witha good collection of model boats illustrating the rich history of trade and shipbuilding on the river.
I loved the wonky windows on these preserved Jacobean houses - not far from the quayside - but it also had an interesting tale to tell as the plaque on it explains:
"from the above window on Nov 18th 1772 Bessy Surtees descended and eloped with John Scott later created 1st Earl of Eldon and Lord Chancellor of England".
Poor Bessie Surtees!
She was the daughter of a rich Newcastle family and fell in love with John Scott, a poor coal merchant's son. However, her parents didn't accept the poor fella to become her husband.
So on the night of 18 November 1772 she climbed out of the window in the first floor of this house and they escaped to Scotland where they got married.
He later became Lord Chancellor of England and Earl of Eldon. Not a too bad choice after all ;)
The house is open from 10am to 4pm Mondays to Fridays. Admission is free. We only had a look from the outside though!
Sea Life Centre
Explore the unseen diverse marine habitat that lies below the sea. Take a trip through the underwater tunnel and come within inches if many different creatures.
Centre for Life
A muti-purpose site with a visitor centre, conference facilities and The Institute Of Human Genetics.