Museums and attractions

There are many museums in Tyne and Wear, with exhibitions ranging from science and technology to local history. We’ve listed the local museums in alphabetical order below, so keep reading for more details. The exhibitions change regularly, so visit the museums’ websites or contact them directly to see what’s on before you visit.

Check the accessibility of the place before you visit

AccessAble can help you to plan your trips to places like cinemas, theatres, restaurants, railway stations, hotels, colleges, universities, hospitals and more. They visit and review the accessibility of places in Newcastle. Use their directory of venues to find wheelchair friendly venues, read more about facilities and disabled access available. Such as:

  • photos of the facilities
  • entrance to the building
  • accessible toilets or changing places
  • how easy it is to move around the venue
  • lifts
  • transport and parking
  • dementia friendly
  • quiet or safe space
  • sign language

1900 Hadrian’s Wall Country

1900 Hadrian’s Wall Country is a festival of events and activities for families and adults, volunteers, ramblers and heritage lovers.  There is something for everyone to take part in this year, 1900 years since Hadrian’s Wall was built.  Hadrian’s Wall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has forts along the wall including: Birdoswald Roman Fort, Great Chester’s Fort, Housestead’s Roman Fort and Harrow’s Scar, Milecastle and Wall.

Arbeia, South Shields Roman Fort 

Arbeia, South Shields Roman Fort shows what daily life was like for those living at the Fort. It has full scale reconstructed Roman buildings: a West Gate, soldiers’ barrack and Commanders’ house for you to explore, giving a flavour of life at the fort. The museum showcases objects found at Arbeia, like weapons, armour and jewellery. You can discover how the Romans buried their dead and see tombstones and inscribed altars found at South Shields. With a seasonal programme of events. Donations welcome, admission free.

Bowes Museum

Bowes Museum is magnificent French chateau created in the late 19th century by John and Josephine Bowes, housing internationally renowned collections of European fine and decorative arts spanning five centuries.

Bowes Railway

Bowes Railway is a volunteer led registered charity, aiming to preserve the unique rope hauled inclines colliery workshops and railway line, built in 1826.  Take a guided tour of the railway site at 10.00am & 3.00pm or take a self-guided tour. See mining displays and blacksmithing demonstrations as well as diesel shunting. They run different events throughout the year.

The Common Room

The Common Room is within The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers. Using the unique heritage of the Mining Institute to inspire the next generation of innovators & engineers. Providing a range of unique event spaces to hire.

Newcastle Castle

Newcastle Castle is a Norman Fortress with a remarkable history.   The area around the Castle is known as Old
Newcastle, because it is the heart of the medieval town, including the old market areas. The main landmark other than the Castle is St Nicholas Cathedral.  Once the ‘Great Tower’ at the centre of the 12th century Castle, the Keep was used as a royal residence and a centre for the defence of the North of England. It later became a county prison
and a place of execution. Today it is one of the best preserved castle keeps in England.  There is also the Black Gate.

Discovery Museum 

Discovery Museum explores life in Newcastle and Tyneside from our renowned maritime history and world-changing science and technology right through to fashion through the eras and military history. The museum has lots to offer audiences of all ages with many interactive displays, which makes it  a great place to learn and have fun. Admission to the Discovery Museum is free.

Life Science Centre (Centre for Life) 

Life Science Centre (Centre for Life) is a lively experience which aims to encourage questions about the world we live in. Attractions include interactive exhibitions and live demonstrations. There is an entrance fee.

Great North Museum: Hancock 

Great North Museum: Hancock has collections from the Hancock Museum and Newcastle University’s Museum of Antiquities, the Shefton Museum and the Hatton Gallery. Highlights include a large-scale, interactive model of Hadrian’s Wall, major new displays showing the wonder and diversity of the animal and plant kingdoms, spectacular objects from the Ancient Greeks and mummies from Ancient Egypt, a planetarium and a life-size T-Rex dinosaur skeleton. It also has the Hancock Library with collections on the history and heritage of the Northern Region, Roman Britain and Hadrian’s Wall, as well as archaeology and natural history Free entry (donations welcome).

Hetton Colliery

Hetton Colliery Railway is a registered charity established to promote the educational, cultural and historical importance of the Hetton Colliery Railway.

Hylton Castle

Hylton Castle is a historic landmark near Sunderland that was built by Sir William Hylton, shortly before 1400. This distinctive and highly decorative gatehouse-tower style castle makes for an exciting sightseeing trip, as you uncover the history and heritage of the North East.

Jarrow Hall, Anglo-Saxon Farm, Village and Bede Museum

Jarrow Hall is a museum dedicated to exploring the life and legacy of Bede, alongside an Anglo-Saxon farm and coffee shop. Set across 11 acres, the farm houses features over 70 rare-breed and rescued animals and reconstructed Anglo-Saxon dwellings. There is an entrance fee.

The Mining Institute

The Mining Institute is the Royal Chartered membership organisation for science, technology and engineering in the North. Founded in 1852 by the most important contemporary Northern scientists and engineers, by becoming a member you can follow in their footsteps to help shape the future of industrial heritage and cutting-edge science in the North. They hold regular talks and events on all aspects of science and technology and have lots of opportunities for you to get involved further.

Today it holds one of the largest mining libraries worldwide and is also available as a venue for events.

Monkwearmouth Station Museum

Monkwearmouth Station Museum is now closed.

Newcastle United Museum & Stadium Tours

Newcastle United Museum & Stadium Tours features photographs and memorabilia from across the years. For an extra charge you can have a guided tour of St. James Park, which takes you on a journey of the history of Newcastle United Football Club. You can see the changing rooms, the Media Suite, the dugouts, and get to see how it feels to stand right by the pitch. There is an admission fee.

North East Film Archive

North East Film Archive has many films for free on their website, looking back at how things used to be in Newcastle. They currently hold around 30,000 items, from 1900’s to the present.  They cover a range of subjects, including rural and urban life, industry and agriculture, family life, holidays and leisure, and wartime in the region, as well as a range of styles such as documentary, advertising, amateur footage, newsreels, animation, regional television news and educational material.

Oriental Museum at Durham University

The Oriental Museum is devoted entirely to the art and archaeology of the great cultures of Northern Africa and Asia. There is a very small admission fee.

Segedunum Roman Fort and Museum

Segedunum Roman Fort is the most excavated fort along Hadrian’s Wall and also has a large interactive museum, which aims to show what life was like in Roman Britain. There are several permanent displays, including a Roman Gallery, Hadrian’s Wall and a 35m Viewing Tower delivering spectacular views across he site and wider area. With an annual programme of exhibitions and events. Admission charges apply, children under 16 go free.

Slow Museums

Slow Museums are for anyone who needs more time to visit museums and galleries in Tyne and Wear. Museum staff are trained to welcome people with communication or literacy difficulties; learning disabilities or autism, people living with dementia, anxiety or stroke survivors, as well as their families and carers. There are sessions each month where you can take your time to enjoy the museum with:

  • staff to help you find out more about the culture and history of the North East
  • extra seating
  • planned exhibits
  • little extras to help you explore

Sessions take place at:  Great North Museum: Hancock, Segedunum Roman Fort, Shipley Art Gallery and South Shields Museum and Art Gallery.

South Shields Museum and Art Gallery

South Shields Museum and Art Gallery explores the history of South Tyneside through art and interactive exhibits. There are permanent displays as well as regular temporary exhibitions. Free entry.

Stephenson Steam Railway

Stephenson Railway Museum is home to historic railway exhibits from the early days of the steam railway right up to the present day. You can take a ride on a real steam train or diesel engine on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays. Please check their website for museum opening times and train times. They run special events in December where booking is required. Free entry. Donations welcome.

Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens

Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens combines a museum showing the history of the city, an art gallery, exhibition space and Winter Gardens. Free entry.

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums is our regional museum, art gallery and archives service. They manage a collection of 9 museums and galleries across Tyneside and Tyne and Wear Archives. Many of these museums and galleries are free to visit. They run a range of exhibitions, activities, volunteering opportunities, festivals, and social groups at their venues.

Read more about Art Galleries on InformationNOW. Free entry to most of their venues and exhibitions.

The Late Shows

The Late Shows is the annual late night culture crawl across Newcastle and Gateshead. For one weekend only in May, cultural venues, museums, galleries, studio collectives and landmark historical buildings come together to offer one-off events including hands-on workshops, behind-the-scenes tours, performances and parties. Visit Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums website for more details on venues and activities available. Booking may be required.

Tyne & Wear Archives

Tyne & Wear Archives is part of TWAM and is the largest archives in the North East. They store many historical records and can assist you with your own research. There is a public search room where you can carry out your own research. Free entry.

Victoria Tunnel

The Victoria Tunnel runs beneath the city from the Town Moor down to the Tyne. It was built in 1842 to transport coal from Leazes Main Colliery to riverside jetties ready for loading onto ships. In 1939, it was converted into an air-raid shelter to protect hundreds of Newcastle citizens during World War II.  Tours must be booked in advance with The Ouseburn Trust.

Washington ‘F’ Pit 

Washington ‘F’ Pit houses a Victorian steam engine, engine house and headgear. They are preserved as a monument to Washington’s coalmining heritage that reaches back over 250 years. Washington ‘F’ Pit is open seasonally. Check their website for more details. An online tour is available is an online interactive exhibition providing you with the opportunity to view and explore the history of the creativity and innovation of the North East, as told through a ‘virtual exhibition’ of 100 objects held by museums, galleries and archives across the North East. Together the stories these objects tell us illustrate the richness that comes from this region and its peoples, such as the creation of railways, the flourish of artistic life, the drive for social reform, and the sheer breadth and quantity of world renowned inventions.

Safe Places

Many of the local museums are known Safe Places. Where people with learning disabilities and autism can go to get help if they’re worried, have lost something, or just need reassurance from staff at the Safe Place. Safe Places will have a yellow sticker in the window or on the door. For more information about safe places please visit our article on learning disabilities and autism.

Last updated: December 15, 2023