Bored of the pub? Try the Great North Museum: Hancock!   

By Kate Watson – 3rd year Biomedical Sciences

As a twenty-year-old student, there are many places I go to in Newcastle: clubs, parks and restaurants. When you’re only living in a city for a few years, you’ve got to try to make the most of it! I thought I’d visited everything that was worthwhile. How wrong I was!  

A grand building on campus was hiding a multitude of wonders. I’d walked past it many times, but I’d never once considered going in. Who wants to spend their free time in a boring old museum?  

A full-sized model of an elephant in the living planet gallery. Picture taken by Kate Watson.

Lions, tigers, and bears! Oh my! 

From the moment I stepped inside, I was completely blown away by the living planet gallery- an array of beautiful animals from the floor to ceiling. It’s not every day you see a great white shark and a lion in the same room, let alone in Newcastle! 

As I ventured in further, I was surrounded by amazing historical artifacts and a huge t-rex!  

A cast of Tyrannosaurus rex (T-rex) skeleton on display in the museum’s fossil stories gallery. Picture taken by Kate Watson.

Travelling back in time

Ancient Egyptian artifacts in the Ancient Egypt gallery. Picture taken by Kate Watson.

The extensive ancient Egyptian gallery displayed beautiful jewelry, intricately painted artifacts, and a real mummy. The mummy caught me a bit off guard as it also did to a little kid who quickly ran away when he saw it!

Walking through the fossil galleries transported me back to a day trip to the Jurassic coast with my brother when I was younger. We searched for fossils, believing we could make the next big discovery. The displays reignited my love for looking at fossils and imagining what they were and how the species lived all those years ago. There were even images of what the animals would have looked like when they were alive! 

When I think of museums, I associate them with visits as a kid, so I tend to think of them as being for children. Yes, the exhibitions were very accessible to children, but I was captivated by everything I saw. The nostalgia brought about by the majority of the exhibitions really made the whole experience special. 

Special evening events 

It’s not just during the day that you can visit this fantastic museum but they also have events during the night! The next event is about tattooing, they’ve also had events about beer, Ceilidhs, and women. 

Rooms full of amazing displays 

From marveling at the images projected onto Roman altar stones to reading every single piece of information I could on plastic pollution. I was really in awe of the creative exhibitions and the striking items on display. Every item was so unique and interesting, I could go back 50 times and find something new every time. 

Projections onto seven Roman altars, a reimagination of how they might originally have looked. Altars’ from Hadrian’s Wall and other Roman sites in the north of Britain in Hadrian’s Wall gallery. Picture taken by Kate Watson.
Crystals on display in the Crystals and Gems display. Picture taken by Kate Watson.

Although I loved all the exhibitions, the one I was most excited for was the crystals and gems display. (I know, I know, …. I’m basic). I thought I knew all the crystals, as an avid crystal collector, but there were so many beautiful gems that I’d never even heard of. It’s a relatively small display compared to the others, but it had so many stunning items. I could have spent hours looking at every single one. 

As much as I embrace all the typical student activities, I can’t wait to go back to this museum with my friends to show them everything it has to offer. There was such an amazing variety of exhibitions, I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. I really didn’t have high expectations when I went in, but I truly loved it.  So, if you have an hour or two to spare, forget about a pint and consider this fantastic museum! 

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