Great North Hancock Museum

New extension of the Great North Museum
New extension of the Great North Museum

Project description

The Great North Museum: Hancock is one of the leading culture and heritage attractions in the North East of England. This stunning development, which blends the original Victorian architecture with a contemporary extension, has become one of the most popular leisure destinations in the region, attracting visitors from the area and beyond.

The redevelopment project was delivered in partnership comprising:

  • Newcastle University
  • Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
  • The Natural History Society of Northumbria
  • The Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Newcastle City Council

Aims and objectives

Based in Newcastle, the Great North Museum project was designed to transform the original Hancock Museum building, a Grade 2* listed building dating from 1884, and create a museum fit for the 21st century.

The redevelopment was needed to modernise the building, making it fit for purpose and to accommodate the flourishing range of education and cultural activities it delivers. The project has also significantly increased display and exhibition space enabling the bringing together of three important collections into one major visitor attraction.

Project Start Date and End Date

Planning for the project began in 2002. The museum closed to the public in April 2006 for refurbishment, and re-opened in May 2009.

Services offered

  • Environmentally controlled, secure, temporary exhibition space with excellent access for large exhibits.
  • Events spaces
  • Learning suite
  • Two cafes
  • Two shops
  • Study garden
  • Library facility

Success factors

Inside the museum
Inside the museum

Risk factors

Refurbishment of an historic property, as in all such projects, represented a significant risk should unforeseen difficulties arise. The project itself was funded through a complex range of funding streams requiring acceptance of a range of distinct performance outputs which, to date, have been achieved.

Business/operational model

The project was delivered in a partnership led by Newcastle University. The Museum is managed by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums on behalf of Newcastle University under a Service Level Agreement.

Financing and delivery/procurement

  • Heritage Lottery Fund
  • Newcastle University
  • Newcastle City Council
  • European Regional Development Fund
  • ONE North East
  • Tyne and Wear Sub-Regional Partnership
  • DCMS
  • A range of trusts, corporations and individuals

The architectural redevelopment of the Museum was designed by Architects
Terry Farrell and Partners. Exhibition design was by Casson Mann.

Measurement and Monitoring

The success of the development can be clearly evidenced in the rise in visitor figures. Since its re-opening in May 2009 the museum has attracted over 800,000 visitors (prior to redevelopment the Museum generally attracted around 80-100,000 visitors p.a.). Surveys show that this also includes a significant number of tourists.

The project has not only boosted the local economy, but has helped to transform the reputation of the North East.

Future developments

Planning for the refurbishment of the Hatton Gallery, which falls under the banner of the Great North Museum, is currently underway. Should this be successful, the project would significantly modernise the building, allowing the gallery to further develop its highly regarded exhibition programme and to showcase its collection of historic and modern art.

Living places in action

Contact details

Steve McLean
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (managers on behalf of Newcastle University.
Great North Museum, Barras Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne & Wear, NE2 4PT
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