Looking for a family friendly place to take the kids where they can roam freely, touch nearly everything and learn about the history of northern England, engineering, light, electricity, manufacturing, naval science and more? Looking for a place that will make you go, “Wow!” when you come through the doors? A place with a friendly staff, a tasty cafe, and a local art display?
How about all of that for free? (Well, not the cafe. You’ll have to pay for your lunch bit it’s very reasonably priced.)
My daughter and I grabbed our jackets one January day and walked just a few blocks from Newcastle’s city center to find the Discovery Museum and see what it was like. I had found it online, and wasn’t sure what to expect so you can imagine we were quite pleased when we came through the doors of what looked like a beautiful but old restored office/warehouse building and turned to see this:
The interior of the building is beautiful! Before we walked in, I looked at all that brick and expected to enter into a dark and industrial looking building, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. They’ve done a fantastic job of turning it into a light and open space. The displays ring the perimeter on three floors, leaving the middle completely open and spacious.
The variety of exhibits was surprising too. We walked through this maze like path which brought us through the history of Newcastle, from pre-Roman times to the present, and showed both living and working conditions, religious history and cultural changes through the centuries, and through the last several decades.
There was also an art gallery, a gallery with displays of athletes who have represented the local area in the Olympic Games, a hall displaying military life through the years, a very large room displaying the ship-building history of Newcastle and Gateshead including several complete, full sized boats, a science maze and a play area for small children. There are also seasonal displays that change from month to month.
Really, the place is huge, and it’s easy to see why it won the 2006 North East’s Best Family Experience award.
My Girl is nineteen so is a bit older than the target audience I think, but we both got a lot out of our visit. There really is something for every age here and neither one of us felt out of place roaming around a children’s museum while obviously being not-children. Our ‘inner children’ are alive and well, and we quite often act like children, but we’re a bit tall to pull off the soft play area.
It’s ok though, we kept busy without jumping into the padded climbing corner.
And really, no one every gets too old to play in the fun house mirrors, do they?
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tel: (0191) 232 6789
Textphone: 18001 0191 232 6789