The collections from Newcastle University's Museum of Antiquities and Shefton Museum of Greek and Etruscan Art and Archaeology are set to transfer to the rejuvenated Hancock Museum building, under the development of the Great North Museum project.
The £26 million Heritage Lottery-funded Great North Museum project is due to be completed early in 2009. When the museums close their doors at the weekend, staff will begin the massive task of preparing the collections for transfer to their new home.
Included in the collection of the Museum of Antiquities, which is largely owned by the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, are some 200 stone altars from Hadrian's Wall, as well as many small and fragile items of flint, pottery and jewellery dating from the Palaeolithic to the Tudors and Stuarts period.
The move to new premises will enable many more visitors to enjoy these collections, and the Shefton Museum's exquisite collection of Greek and Etruscan art and archaeology, which represents a lifetime's passion for Professor Brian Shefton. Now almost 90 years old, Professor Shefton, in whose honour the museum was named in 1999, will be attending a closing celebration in the Shefton Museum on Friday 18 April.
Newcastle University's Director of Archaeological Museums, Lindsay Allason-Jones, who has looked after the collections since 1987, said: 'Of course I have very mixed feelings. The Museum of Antiquities has been the region's principal museum of Hadrian's Wall for more than 40 years, and it holds a very special place in many people's affections. The Shefton Museum has always been something of a hidden gem, but thanks to Professor Shefton's dedication, it houses some of best examples of Greek artefacts outside London.'
But Miss Allason-Jones added: 'The Great North Museum project is very exciting, and we badly need the move to new, more suitable, premises to enable us to modernise the way we show our collections, and to open them up to new and wider audiences.'
Lindsay Allason-Jones will be recounting the activities of the Museum of Antiquities since it was opened in 1960 in a public lecture in the Curtis Auditorium at Newcastle University at 5.30 pm on Thursday 17 April.
• The Shefton Museum, in the Armstrong Building, Newcastle University, closes for the final time at 4.00 pm on Friday 18 April.
The Museum of Antiquities closes at 4.00 pm on Saturday 19 April.
Notes for Editors
1. The Great North Museum project is led by Newcastle University in partnership with Tyne & Wear Museums, Newcastle City Council, the Natural History Society of Northumbria and the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne.
As part of the £26 million Great North Museum project, the Hancock Museum is being transformed into a world-class visitor attraction. When the new museum opens in 2009, it will be a flagship visitor attraction incorporating collections from the Hancock Museum and Newcastle University’s Museum of Antiquities, the Shefton Museum and the Hatton Gallery.
Highlights of the new museum will 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. The Great North Museum project has been made possible with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, TyneWear Partnership, One NorthEast, the European Regional Development Fund, Newcastle University, Newcastle City Council, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Wolfson Foundation, The Northern Rock Foundation and numerous other trusts and funders.
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published on: 14th April 2008