Time spent browsing a museum is time well spent and a great way to while away a few hours in Newcastle and Gateshead.

Whether you have a quiet Sunday afternoon with nothing planned or you’re looking for cultural activities in Newcastle and Gateshead during the holidays, there are plenty of free museums to pop into that are family-friendly, educational, inspiring but most of all, a lot of fun!

Newcastle and Gateshead boast a range of museums to satisfy a whole manner of interests from transport enthusiasts to book lovers, science boffs to wannabe time travellers. Whatever your reason for a museum visit in the North East of England, you won’t be disappointed with the range of museums to suit all budgets too.

Museums not to miss in Newcastle

Discovery Museum, Newcastle

Discovery Museum is one of Newcastle’s most popular free museums. Not far from St James’ Park, the iconic home of Newcastle United Football Club, Discovery Museum is an ideal attraction for people wishing to, well discover! Explore stacks of artefacts and exhibits which tell the story of Newcastle’s maritime history as well as learn about changes in science, technology, fashion and military history.

Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle

Great North Museum is another excellent free museum in Newcastle that is not to be missed. With room after room of cabinets, curiosities and creatures, visitors to Great North Museum: Hancock can explore artefacts, come face-to-face with a full-size T-Rex and journey back to Ancient Egypt, all in an afternoon. 

Life Science Centre, beside Newcastle Central Station

Life Science Centre is the first of the paid entry museums on our list of the best museums in Newcastle and Gateshead. Life Science Centre may not be free, but it is definitely worth a visit. The award-winning museum is dedicated to inspiring your little scientists, creative thinkers and explorers and has a changing programme of fascinating exhibitions to run alongside its permanent displays. Your day will be well spent with hands-on activities and demonstrations, a 4D Motion Ride and the North’s biggest planetarium.

Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books, Ouseburn

Seven Stories is the National Centre for Children’s Books and can be found in Ouseburn - the creative quarter of Newcastle. Let your imagination take you on a journey through exhibitions dedicated to a love of children’s books. From original illustrations to rough drafts of famous stories, Seven Stories’ carefully curated exhibitions celebrate a love of reading. There is an admission fee to Seven Stories but it is free to access their bookshop and cafe where there are often storytimes and activities taking place too.

Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum, Wallsend

Hop on the bus or take the Metro to Wallsend and enter the world of Emperor Hadrian. Segedunum Museum is the gateway to Hadrian’s Wall and a brilliant place to learn more about Roman life in the North of England. There is an entry charge for adults to Segedunum but children go free (under 16 years).

Newcastle Castle, Newcastle city centre

If only walls could talk! The historic Newcastle Castle is home to over a thousand years of history. Find out more about the history of Newcastle Castle and what links a flying donkey to Newcastle Castle! Admission is required to Newcastle Castle.

Museums in the wider North East

Beamish Museum, County Durham

Beamish Museum is a brilliant day out all year round. Stroll through the nostalgic streets of Beamish Town or hop on the tram to explore the open-air museum in style. Delve into British history to discover the story of the North East of England with a trip down the coal mines, a lesson in the school and a mouth-watering stop off to buy humbugs and cinder toffee in Beamish’s famous sweet shop. Embrace the smells, sounds and costumes at this truly immersive museum. You might start to see your own history creeping into Beamish Museum with the arrival of their latest 1950s attractions. Although there is an entry fee at Beamish, the day ticket is then valid for 12 months if you have chance to go back.

Stephenson Steam Railway, North Shields

Transports, train enthusiasts, heritage train rides on their steam trains. Excellent Christmas activities with all the family. Free museum with a charge to ride the steam train. Opening days and times are a little irregular at Stephenson Steam Railway. The free museum is open during school holidays and in the spring – summer months with regular activities and heritage train rides at Christmas.

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland

Alnwick Castle, found in Northumberland about a 50-minute drive from Newcastle, is one of the largest inhabited castles in England. Built as a medieval fortress and owned by the Percy family for over 700 years, Alnwick Castle is now home to the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland and an award-winning visitor attraction. It's a great day out for families near Newcastle or history buffs who want to wander the ancient halls of a Northumberland castle.

Sunderland Museum and Winter Garden, Sunderland 

Free attraction, Sunderland Museum and Winter Garden has four floors of eclectic permanent exhibitions which celebrate Sunderland’s fascinating history as well as a tropical winter garden and an art gallery space which is home to works by artist LS Lowry. A recent grant was awarded as part of The Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme which means that visitors will be able to enjoy a range of temporary exhibitions showcasing work by incredible global artists such as Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Damien Hirst, Grayson Perry, Paula Rego, and Gillian Wearing. Some exhibitions and events carry a charge.

Museums You Will Also Enjoy:

If you are looking for more inspiration for your visit to Newcastle and Gateshead and want to find art galleries, attractions and venues to explore then take a look at our Things to Do section.

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