The collection of the Hancock Museum can be traced to about 1780 when Marmaduke Tunstall started accumulating ethnographic and natural history material from around the world. He then brought his collection from London to North Yorkshire. In 1790 Tunstall died, and George Allan of Darlington purchased Tunstall's collection; and later in 1823 it was acquired by the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon Tyne. In 1829 the Natural History Society of Northumberland, Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne (now the Natural History Society of Northumbria) was formed as a scientific offshoot of the Literary and Philosophical Society. Amongst the founding and early members of the Natural History Society were Joshua Alder, Albany Hancock, John Hancock, Prideaux John Selby and William Chapman Hewitson.
Among the Museum's permanent residents are a life-size cast of an African elephant; the Egyptian mummy Bakt-hor-Nekht; a full size replica of a T-Rex skeleton; and Sparkie, Newcastle’s famous talking budgie, who was stuffed after his death in 1962 and is now the subject of a new opera by Michael Nyman. The full size cast of an African Elephant was built in the Living Planet gallery. The model was crafted by Zephyr Wildlife, who took a cast from an actual stuffed elephant at a museum in Bonn in Germany. To get the elephant into the museum a crane, from Bel Lift Trucks, had to be used. The full size model of a T-Rex dinosaur has been shipped from Canada, where it was built by a company called Research Casting International. It forms part of the display known as the Fossil Stories gallery. The T-Rex model was one of the first items to be placed in the new museum, due to its size. Other exhibitions include 'Hadrian's Wall' looking at Roman life in the north of England, 'Natural Northumbria' focusing on the wildlife found in the northeast, 'Ancient Egypt' looking at the Ancient Egyptians and featuring the museum's two mummies, 'Ice Age to Iron Age' detailing the history of the British Isles over the past 12,000 years, 'World Cultures' featuring artifacts and displays from cultures across the globe, 'The Shefton Collection' with one of the most detailed collections of Greek artifacts in the UK and 'Explore' which is a more hands-on area of the museum and features regular interactive sessions.
There are also a number of live animals, especially amphibians and reptiles, within the museum, as well as a conference area for corporate events and a fully provisioned learning suite for school visits. Inside the Museum there are lifts and stairs providing access to all floors. All lifts have voice announcers and Braille indicators. The Museum is spread out across the ground floor and first floor. The GNM library can be found on the 2nd floor in the rear part of the building. This also has lift access. All floors have level access. Stairs have raised tactile indicators on the underside of the handrails. Stairs also have contrasting nosings. Large print orientations maps for the Museum are available on request at the Reception Desk. These can also be requested in advance of your visit. There are separate male, female, accessible and family toilets on the ground floor. There are separate male, female and accessible toilets on the first floor. There is an accessible toilet on the second floor. Guided Tours are available on request, but must be booked in advance. There are a number of audio points in the Museum. Video which has spoken narrative is subtitled and has accompanying BSL. Audio points in the Hadrian’s Wall gallery have text versions on the panels. All interactives are accessible for people who use wheelchairs. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : Barras Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear NE2 4PT
Transport: Newcastle Central Station (National Rail, Metro) then to Haymarket (Metro). Bus routes 10 and 11 stop outside.
Opening Times: Monday to Friday 10:00 to 17:00
Opening Times: Saturday 10:00 to 16:00. Sunday 11:00 to 16:00
Tel: 0191 208 6765