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Great North Museum: Hancock welcomes 3 millionth visitor


The Great North Museum: Hancock has welcomed its three millionth visitor since re-opening in May 2009.

Managed by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums on behalf of Newcastle University, the Grade II* listed museum has hit this milestone in its fifth year since undergoing a £26m rejuvenation.

Four generations of the same family collectively became the three millionth visitor to the Great North Museum: Hancock: Kayley Corbett, 25, and her sons Jayden Brown, seven, and Alfie, five, plus the boys’ grandmother Tracey Brown, 44 and great-grandmother Olwyn Shergold, 70, (pictured) had travelled from Sunderland.

The day was also marked by several free family events, including an appearance from Bjorn the Polar Bear – an interactive life size quad-pod puppet - and bird box making for families with experts from the Natural History Society of Northumbria (NHSN).

Iain Watson, Director of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums said:

“The Great North Museum: Hancock is an important part of the north east’s cultural history and many people from the region have fond memories of visiting the museum since childhood.  The spectacular redevelopment in 2009 transformed it into a world class museum and a destination attraction. 

“It is wonderful to have welcomed three million visitors through the doors and we have a sensational programme of exhibitions, events and activities planned for the coming year so we’re looking forward to welcoming many more!”

2014 saw record breaking visitor numbers at the museum.  Since re-opening in 2009 over 109,000 school children aged five -16 years have taken workshops based on the museum’s collections; over 45 special exhibitions have shown and hundreds of free family events have taken place.

Richard Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engagement & Internationalisation at Newcastle University, said:

‘This is a fantastic achievement, and re-affirms the long tradition of the Great North Museum: Hancock being an important cultural hub for a wide range of communities across the North East and beyond. The diversity and quality of its exhibitions, collections and educational activities is clearly evidenced in this milestone, and I am confident that this amazing response from visitors will continue long into the future.”

The creation of the Great North Museum: Hancock was made possible by £8.75million in funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), in addition to generous funding from a wide range of supporters.

Ivor Crowther, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund North East, said:

“Three million visitors is a fantastic achievement and shows just how far this world-class museum has come. Thanks to Lottery players we’ve been able to help transform the Great North Museum so that visitors from near and far continue to be inspired by its important collections.” 

Passing the post of three million visitors coincides with the museum being shortlisted for Best Family Day Out in the national Hudson Heritage Awards, with the winner announced in March by TV historian Dan Snow.  

The museum has received over 20 awards and shortlist commendations, including a shortlisting for the coveted European Museum of the Year award 2011 and Gold Visit England Access for All Award National Tourism Award 2012. The museum was also named one of the top ten regional museums in 2014 in the Observer magazine by Arts Council England (ACE) Museums Director John Orna-Ornstein.

Curatorial tours of the many items not on display held at the Great North Museum: Resource Centre, based at Newcastle’s Discovery Museum are proving so popular that they are booked months in advance – and plans are in development to run more.

published on: 16 February 2015