One thing I love about living in Newcastle is that there is plenty to see and do in the area. On a wet miserable day it is great to be able to go and visit a museum, it gets you out of the house and it is educational for the kids. Recently we paid another visit to the Great North Museum or the Hancock Museum which is right in the centre of town.
The Great North Museum is a Natural History Museum which is housed in an imposing 19th Century Building. To get to it you have to walk up a staircase which gives it an sense of grandeur. Entry into the museum is free, but there are some parts you need pay for like the planetarium. The museum is on two floors. When you first walk in you are confronted by an amazing wall of animals. There is everything from elephants, to giant turtles to goats and overhead there is a flock of seagulls and other birds.
You can spend a while looking at all the amazing animals on display and when you walk around the corner you are faced with a shark. It is fascinating to see the range of animals we have in this world.
Leaving the animals behind we find ourselves in a section devoted to the different ages of man. There are sections on the stone age, iron age, bronze age and the time of the Romans all with exhibits showing the type of pottery and weaponry used then.
A lot of the exhibits are interactive and my son spent a long time designing a Saxon shield on a computer screen. When it was finished it was displayed on the wall in full colour which he loved. He also managed to find himself a friend from the distant past!
I really liked the section on Roman history. There is a scale model of Hadrians Wall and it really makes you realise what an effort the Romans put into building it. I took a picture from the second floor which gives an idea of how large the model is.
Even this does not show the full length of the wall. The map shows the key points along the wall with the different forts marked clearly. This exhibit is surrounded by information on what it was like to be alive in the time of the Romans and it really brings the period to life.
Leaving the Romans we walk into the time of the dinosaurs.
Along with the models and fossils which show you how the dinosaurs looked there are screens which show short films showing the dinosaurs as they would have been when they were alive. There are also live animals, lizards, snakes and shrimps which all add to the experience. All children are fascinated with dinosaurs so we spent a little while in this section.
Upstairs there is more natural history, you get to pass the wall of animals again and view them from the top of the stairs. There are then more displays with smaller animals and interactive exhibits. Passing this you go into a section on the Egyptians with a mummy.
There are a lot of other displays about Egyptian life, including an amazing interactive floor which shows the journey to death. At one point there were snakes on the floor which was a bit of a shock. It was funny watching the toddlers interact with this exhibit, one of them thought the snakes were real.
The reason we actually visited the museum this particular week was to take part in the Great North Build. This was an interactive Lego exhibition that was on for two weeks which gave visitors an opportunity to shape their ideal town. We were given the chance to create a building and they were added to the Lego town.
It was a great idea for an exhibit and we enjoyed building our model. Looking at the town itself was fascinating, see the buildings others had created. The only downside was that there was a bit of a wait to get tickets to go in.
If you are in Newcastle and looking for somewhere to spend a few hours the Great North Museum is definitely worth a visit. You can happily spend a while in here looking at the exhibits and it is is aimed at all ages.
For more information you can visit their website: http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/greatnorthmuseum/about/
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