As mentioned in my 2018 so far post, a few weeks back Peter and I had a wander up to the Great North Museum: Hancock. If you’ve not heard of the Great North Museum: Hancock, it is situated in the centre of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and is home to various exhibitions like Living Planet, Fossil Stories, a Hadrian’s Wall gallery, Natural Northumbria and World Cultures. There are also exhibits on ancient Egyptians and Greek and Etruscan art and archaeology.
A museum that has been around since 1884
The museum was first built in 1884 as a natural history museum to house collections of the Natural History Society of Northumbria. Ornithologist and taxidermist John Hancock was said to be instrumental in securing funds for the museum and when he died in 1890 the museum changed its name to the Hancock Museum. After undergoing a £26 million redevelopment in 2009 the museum merged with the Museum of Antiquities and the Shefton Museum to become the Great North Museum: Hancock. Today the museum is managed by Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums on behalf of Newcastle University and is a popular location for a FREE family day out although donations are always welcome if you are feeling generous.
Not only that, the beautiful building also houses a library and natural history archive that anyone can use plus The Environmental Records Information Centre for the North East is also based at the museum which works with wildlife recording groups and individuals to collate environmental data which is used to inform nature conservation which I think is pretty damn awesome.
An awesome FREE day out
When Peter and I visited the museum we spent a good 3-4 hours exploring it all. The museum is excellent in the sense that it has something for everyone. There are various exhibits that will keep children entertained but there are also exhibits that I think would certainly be appreciated by adults with a love of history and nature. We loved pretty much every exhibit in the museum although we definitely did have our favourites. We particularly enjoyed the Living Planet that housed all things animal. We really enjoyed the sea creature area as we both love sea life, especially sharks. Looking at the T. rex replica skeleton was also so freaking cool as well as checking out the cool fossils. I think for us a big highlight was checking out all the Crystals and Gems. Seeing the sparkling minerals in all their beauty really was something else and had us both saying “Wow” every few seconds.
Something else we loved was the detail on certain exhibitions. The information provided was incredible with many artefacts even stating where they had been discovered along with detailed descriptions. The whole place was just fantastic. Something a little random worth noting is that the museum has storage lockers available. You do have to pay for these but they can come in very handy. We were staying at Staybridge Suites Newcastle that evening and hadn’t yet checked in. Rather than carry our heavy bags around we simply popped them in the locker and then proceeded to have a nosey around the museum.
A beautiful building with beautiful grounds
The Great North Museum: Hancock building its self is super pretty and the surrounding grounds are stunning too. When we visited it was a red hot Friday afternoon. After looking around inside we decided to have a little sit outside, enjoy the weather and a nice little talk. It was lovely and the perfect end to our fantastic visit. It’s also worth noting that between the period of 21st May and 21st June the museum has been closed as they make way for Which Way North, the museum’s contribution to the Great Exhibition Of The North for Summer. It will see over 200 loans arrive at the Great North Museum: Hancock with the last piano played by John Lennon making an appearance as well as Dame Vivienne Westwood’s Pirate Outfit, Helen Sharman’s Space Suit and even the Eleventh Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver to name a few items. Peter and I cannot wait to visit the museum again, especially to see Which Way North which opens 1pm on Friday 22 June.
Have you visited the Great North Museum: Hancock? What did you think of it?