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Museums reviewed by parents: The Great North Museum: Hancock

Great North Museum: Hancock
The Great North Museum: Hancock is a popular family destination in Newcastle upon Tyne and offers exhibitions and activities for children of all ages. Jo Dunbar explore the national history collections with her son William, 5.

Gaze up in awe at a lion, polar bear, elephant, tiger and plenty more in between from the polar, tropical and desert regions of the world. Visitors young and old can’t fail to be impressed by the life-sized animal exhibits in the Great North Museum: HancockMoving around the museum allows you to delve into ancient history, the local environment and a T-Rex skeleton as well as a collection of fossils.

A view from inside the Great North Museum

Best for Nursery and Reception kids

The Mouse House is perfect for pre-schoolers and is aimed at children under five. There are dressing up costumes, sensory games, storybooks and a fun tunnel system to crawl through. 

Best for KS1 kids

The interactive screens on the museum’s first floor are magnets for little hands. Whether it’s to classify UK wildlife or find out more about exotic creatures and their habitats, the touch screen encourages instant learning and is ideal for short attention spans.

Best for KS2 kids

The museum regularly puts together themed exhibits such as Dippy the diplodocus. These are often free exhibits available daily, but the museum recommends you book in advance. As well as viewing things like huge skeletons, children can learn more about history and take part in crafts. 

Inside the planetarium at the Great North Museum   

Don't miss!

The museum’s planetarium shows include short 10-minute documentaries about subjects such as the sun and how cells make up our bodies. Longer length shows are 25 minutes and feature topics such as the Big Bang and whether alien life exists.

Half-term and holiday events for families

The museum hosts a range of exhibits and events for younger children, sometimes involving animals and creepy crawlies! They also have fun themed days throughout the year that are well worth checking out. For more information visit the What's On section online. 

Food and drink options

During the school holidays the museum opens up a dedicated packed lunch area or, if the weather is warm enough, visitors can picnic on the lawn outside the museum’s entrance. Inside the Great North Museum there are two café options: a smaller coffee shop on the ground floor and The Hancock Café on the first floor that has a restaurant menu. Visitors can pick from a hot food menu including kids’ menu options or select items to make up a packed lunch. 

Getting there, prices and opening hours

Located in Newcastle’s city centre, the museum has no parking spaces, although there is a bike rack with space for approximately ten bikes, but there are public car parks nearby. The museum is easy to reach by public transport, very close to both the Haymarket bus and metro stations.

The Great North Museum is free to visit although organisers suggest a £5 donation.

Great North Museum: Hancock
Barras Bridge
Newcastle upon Tyne

Open 10am-5pm Monday to Friday, 10am-4pm on Saturday and 11am-4pm on Sunday. Closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

Educational and interesting exhibits at the Great North Museum

Pocket-money shop purchases

No visit to the Great North Museum is complete without a browse of the many dinosaur-related goodies. My son was drawn to the dinosaur novelty watches that were £3.99 each but other popular pocket money souvenirs included hatching dinosaur eggs (£5.99) and pull-on costume dinosaur heads (£4.99).

Online treasures if you're too far to visit

The Great North Museum website offers plenty of learning resources and activities to download, including gallery explorer kits, code-cracking worksheets and maths challenges. Download and print some visit-enhancing sheets to fill in during your visit!

Links to the National Curriculum

History is an important part of the primary curriculum and pupils from KS1 onwards are expected to develop an unawareness of the past, using common words and phrases relating to the passing of time. 

  • Maths: counting and shapes (Reception, Nursery)
  • Egyptians (KS2)
  • Ancient Greece (KS2) 
  • The environment (KS1 and KS2)
  • Space (KS1 and KS2)
  • Exploring religion (KS1 and KS2)
  • Fossils (KS2)
  • Dinosaurs and prehistoric age (KS2)
  • The natural world (KS1 and KS2) 

 Dinosaur skeleton at The Great north Museum

Photography: © The Great North Museum 

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