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Newcastle upon Tyne is steeped with a history of renaissances. From its foundation by the Romans as a Northern outpost to today’s excellent coffee scene, the city has always been at the forefront of the culture of the time.
At its inception, back in 122 AD, it formed the anchor of one of the biggest engineering projects of the epoch: Hadrian’s Wall. Today, it proudly sits in Northumberland and cultivates its uniqueness, crystallised along a storied history of border skirmishes, changing allegiances and a fiercely independent soul.
The castle in the name, built in the twelfth century by Robert II, the eldest son of Norman King, William the Conqueror, remains a famous sight, bit the city’s past is paved with defence, religion, education, finance, industry and commerce – all the ingredients to help the town to flourish and prosper over the years.
Giz a deek (have a look) at these museums
Built on stone, commerce and coal, Newcastle is reinventing itself into a vibrant, arty and chic destination. Its renaissance manifested in a renewed generation of designers, photographers, artists and entrepreneurs, attracted by city’s laid-back lifestyle, human size and excellent connections to major centres. Its recent investment and existing heritage, from the Baltic Centre to the Hancock Museum, are building up its credentials as an up-and-coming culture capital of the North.
Don’t let the smooth-talking participants of popular TV programme the Geordie Shore fool you: Newcastle is rich with cultural treasures. Even the name Geordie is lovingly derived from history: it was the nickname of the supporters of King George II during the 1745 rebellion against the Scottish Jacobites.
1. The classic: Great North Museum Hancock
The Great Northern Museum Hancock is a dynamic museum curating some of Northern England’s best exhibitions, from natural sciences to futuristic shows. It’s home to an incredibly diverse permanent collection and a host of temporary ones, but also features a planetarium, a great library and several smaller galleries.
Discover the past of the planet we call home on the ground floor with Fossil Stories, showcasing the major changes to the landscape, plants and animals from over a million years ago (p.s.: there’s a full-scale skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex waiting for you).
From the beginnings of time to the era of pyramids and mummies, and from Greek and Etruscan art to modern archaeology and finally back to the North East of England, the Great Northern Museum Hancock will take you through a journey rich with twists and turns.
2. The edgy: Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art
From the old to the new: after the strata’s of history at the Hancock Museum, walk into the edgiest and newest in contemporary art at the Baltic Centre. It’s the largest space dedicated to contemporary arts in the UK, with a space of more than 2,600 square metres.
We’d start the visit with some of their delicious coffee at the Baltic Kitchen (their milkshakes are dangerously tantalising), to take in the sheer scale of the museum, before diving in some of the highlights of the collections. The Behind the Scenes tour every Sunday is a great way to learn more about museography – the art of placing the art pieces in the space to invite reflexion, conversations and engagement – and the different experts who work here, from curator to installer. It can be followed by a Meet & Make, where visitors of all ages can join in with a local artist to create art of their own.
Since opening in 2002, the Centre has already presented the works of more than 436 artists, and welcome more than 7 million visitors. Its aura has placed Newcastle on the map of today’s art lovers, and with good reason.
3. The surprise: the Discovery Museum
The old Co-Operative Wholesale Society Building – Blandford House, built in 1899, became a museum in 1978, and was re-launched as the Discovery Museum in 1993, although the original Discovery Museum was the first science museum outside London and was in Exhibition Park in 1934.
To symbolise the innovative and speed of Newcastle’s growth, the Turbina, the steam vessel built by Charles Algemon Parsons in 1884 has pride-of-place in the Discovery Museum. It was an experimental vessel to demonstrate the revolutionary benefits of Charles Parsons’ steam turbine – once holding the title as the fastest ship in the world. Immerse yourself in history enjoy the three floors of permanent and temporary exhibitions.
4. Hadrian’s Wall
The construction of Hadrian’s Wall began in 122 AD, with the objective to separate the Roman-conquered part of the island from the ‘savage’ North. It was named after the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who ordered it built, and it can still be seen, only a few minutes’ walk from Hotel Indigo – Newcastle. Although not technically a gallery, it does offer an open skies cultural visit.
Part of the permanent exhibition at the Discovery Museum explores the story of the monument even further.
5. The Great Exhibition of the North
The Great Exhibition of the North is England’s biggest exhibition in 2018. Showcasing world-class art, design, innovation and culture that has and keeps shaping the lives of the North, and by extension, the world. The narrative promises to unveil the North’s impact, but also its strong cultural scene and unique viewpoint.
The Great Exhibition of the North wants to instil powerful pride and excitement of life in the north. It opens with the ‘Get North’ event June 22nd 2018 and finishing with the powerful ‘Creating the Future’ closing event ending September 9th 2018.
Hotel Indigo Newcastle proudly supports the event as an accommodation partner.