Since re-opening in 2009 following a major refurbishment, Newcastle University’s Great North Museum: Hancock hasn’t had any problems drawing in the public, and will pass another milestone in February by welcoming its three millionth visitor.
Take that Great North Run!
The 3,500 objects on display in the museum belong to the Natural History Society of Northumbria (NHSN), the Society of Antiquities of Newcastle upon Tyne (SANT) and Newcastle University, and this large and diverse collection understandably continues to fascinate and inspire people from all over the region and indeed the world.
But have you ever wondered where they store the huge number of pieces that aren’t currently on display?
Well, the answer is they store them in the GNM: Resource Centre, a special facility beneath the Discovery Museum (yes, the Discovery Museum) dedicated to looking after the rest of the collection, estimated to number between 750,000 and one million items. That must be quite the facility, I hear you say.
Well, why not have a gander for yourself?
The GNM: Resource Centre has been running free guided tours of the stores to the public since 2011, providing an amazing opportunity for anyone who’s interested in seeing ‘behind the scenes’ of the museum’s internationally significant collection.
While the store rooms may not have the grandeur of the museum itself, the sheer breadth of the collection means that it is impossible not to be impressed, whether you are an academic or a humble sofa scientist.
It contains everything from taxidermy of extinct and endangered species, to fossils, beetles, archaeology and cultural artefacts from across the globe, such as instruments, weapons and clothing.
Seeing this mind-boggling array of objects in the flesh, so to speak, is guaranteed to fire up your interest in natural history and ancient civilisations more than a picture in a textbook ever could.
The Great North Museum: Hancock is managed by Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums on behalf of Newcastle University. To find out about future store tours visit www.greatnorthmuseum.org.uk .