First World War project set to bring visitors to Tyne and Wear museums

Cash from the Heritage Lottery Fund is set to boost First World War exhibitions and workshops at North East museums

First World War recruits in Great Hall, Discovery Museum
First World War recruits in Great Hall, Discovery Museum

Visitors to North East museums can explore the impact of the First World War on the region through a series of fascinating exhibitions and workshops.

Wor Life 1914-18, Tyne & Wear in the First World War, has been given a £205,000 cash injection from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

It comes as the region celebrates English Tourism Week and figures show visitors to Tyne and Wear Museums and Archives venues are on the up so far this year, with Newcastle’s Discovery Museum fetching an extra 15,000 and the city’s Great North Museum also up by 20,000.

Wor Life 1914-18 will delve into the period’s impact as the region marks the war’s centenary, with a series of art and history exhibitions, community projects, local history displays, commemoration events and a mobile phone app.

Coun Ged Bell, chairman of Tyne and Wear Archives & Museums Joint Committee, said: “When people think about WWI they tend to think about the horror of the battlefields but the impact of the war was far-reaching and changed the lives of those back home as well.

“Thanks to this generous funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund we will be telling the stories of people living in Tyne and Wear during WWI and the amazing contribution they made to the war effort. This promises to be an extraordinary programme of exhibitions, events and activities and we hope as many people as possible come along and find out about their region’s role in the Great War.”

Coun John Kelly, Sunderland City Council’s portfolio holder for public health, wellness and culture added: “Sunderland, along with the rest of the North East can be proud of the contribution it made to the wider war-effort during the First World War.

“As time passes it becomes ever-more difficult to imagine the reality of day to day life a century ago. With this in mind, this programme will help young and old appreciate the conditions at home and work during the dark days of war.”

Ivor Crowther, of Heritage Lottery, said: “The many-layered Wor Life 1914-18 project will enable the people of Tyne and Wear to explore the continuing legacy of this conflict and help local young people in particular to broaden their understanding of how it has shaped our modern world.”

A programme of seven exhibitions will look at subjects including the changing role of women during
the war, the region’s industrial input into the war effort and the psychological trauma suffered by returning soldiers. The first exhibition, Paintings of World War I, will open at the Laing Art Gallery on May 10.

Exhibitions will also be on show at South Shields Museum & Art Gallery, Segedunum Roman Fort in Wallsend, Discovery Museum and Tyne &
Wear Archives in Newcastle, Newcastle University’s Hatton Gallery and Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens.

A series of talks, lectures and workshops will also take place across Tyneside venues including the Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead.

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