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  • Writer's pictureKelly

Our Guide To Museums In The North East

As a family one of the things we have always enjoyed is a good museum. We just love to be learning about times gone by. Here in the North East we have some fantastic Museums and I think they all deserve a visit, especially with kids. I always get messages asking for recommendations and recently had people asking about museums, so I thought I would put together this handy little guide.

Updated as of December 2022

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Kirkleatham Museum

A Local Heritage Museum for the Redcar & Cleveland area, the building was once used as a Free Boys School in 1709. Covering local industrial, maritime and social history. Also a play area, woodland walk and plenty of picnic spots. Free Entry

Find Out More HERE

Preston Park Museum and Grounds

Without a doubt one of the better value annual pass attractions in the North East. £15 for a family for the year. Huge play area, the aviary areas are having a revamp and will be brought back to life, lovely walks around the ground, picnic spots. The museum itself is in the Hall and has lots to see. You can also find a replica Victorian street outside too and a walled garden.

Find Out More HERE

Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens

Sunderland Museum is a great place to kill a few hours, there are floors dedicated to the history of Sunderland and it's heritage. I love the shipyard floor. You can also find 2 art galleries, Pottery collection and the gorgeous Winter Gardens which houses an impressive selection of tropical plants. Don't miss the Roof top walkway. Free Entry

Find Out More HERE Undergoing renovations soon or so I have heard! Fingers crossed for this.

The Great North Museum Hancock

One of my favourites in the North East is the Great North Hancock. It has everything you could possibly need to keep kids entertained. It has seven Galleries and the famous Mouse House play area. You can expect to find Dinosaur fossils, Egyptian mummy and artefacts, world cultures and more. Lots of interactive play here. Free Entry

Discovery Museum

Another great museum in the Newcastle area is The Discovery Museum, it is quite large and has so much to see. There is a water play area for the younger kids, lots of interactive play, art gallery and more. Free Entry

Arbeia South Shields Roman Fort

We love a visit to Arbeia, we have been quite a few times and love it every time. Expect to find a small museum with lots to see, Roman Fort with the finest full-scale Roman reconstructions in the country You can look inside the full-scale reconstructed buildings including the West Gate, Commanding Officer's house and a soldier's barrack block you can also find boards dotted about for the kids to read from Ratticus from Horrible Histories

Free Entry Currently closed for Winter

Land Of Iron formerly known as Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum has undergone a huge transformation and will be ready late 2022. We will update this section once we have visited and will let you all know what its now like.

Credit Land of Iron

Dorman Museum

A lovely museum in Middlesbrough that we always visit when we are in the area. Expect to find 8 galleries full of interesting artefacts including The Nelson Room an impressive 19th century collection of mounted birds. Free Entry

South Shields Museum and Art Gallery

We recently visited South Shields Museum and we thoroughly enjoyed it. It has a lovely Catherine Cookson section which includes her plaited hair! Interactive play, 2 art galleries and a replica street. Free Entry

Find Out More HERE

Head Of Steam Darlington

Head Of Steam is housed in the Old Station building and has various collections along with out buildings to explore. Collections include a locomotive, vehicles, various old maps, photos etc. If you are in the area and a fan of trains it is well worth the visit. We are planning on heading back soon as its been years since our last visit, so watch this space.

Entry Fees apply


We are regular visitors to Locomotion, the boys all love trains and Locomotion is a great place to kill a few hours. Expect a large collection of locomotives, a lovely walk which takes you past a live train station, play area and there are out buildings but these were having work done on them the last time we were there. Excitingly, work is taking place to build a brand new building with even more to enjoy so we can not wait to see this. Free Entry

Find Out More HERE

Woodhorn Museum

Once the biggest pit village in the world, this is now a very popular tourist attraction. With 25k objects on display I'm sure you will find something you love. They also hold various events throughout the year and have some fab events on for families. Fees apply (Under 16s are free)

credit Woodhorn Museum

Bailiffgate Museum

Fascinating stories from Alnwick's past can be explored here. Expect to find two floors of permanent artefacts and collections and a gallery on the third floor. Currently you can enjoy an indoors seaside exhibition which looks like lots of fun and we are planning on visiting soon. So watch this space. Fees apply

Credit Bailiffgate Museum

Berwick Museum and Art Gallery

We lived just over the border from Berwick for a while and we loved a visit to the Barracks, but what I loved most is the Berwick Museum. which you can find in the Barrack grounds. It has loads to see and the boys were totally won over by the replica street and literally spent a good hour in here just looking, playing hide and seek and enjoying the exhibition. On the top floor you can find a gorgeous walkthrough dragon. Lovely art gallery and shop here too. Fees apply

Credit Berwick Museum

Beamish open air Museum

One of the North East's biggest and most visited Museums. Tickets last a year and honestly there's so much to see. Experience life in North East England from the 1820s, 1900s, 1940s, and most recently 1950s. You can print of some activities online for the kids to do whilst there too.

Find Out More HERE

Jarrow Hall (Formerly known as Bede's World)

Something a little bit different, Jarrow Hall is an Anglo Saxon Farm, with museum obviously. 12K objects in the Museum including some Anglo Saxon painted plaster, the largest European collection 7th & 8th centaury stained glass windows. There's also an Anglo Saxon Farm and village. Fees Apply

credit Jarrow Hall

Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre

The Horse Centre was one of our favourite places to visit when we lived just over the border and Elliot in particular made friends with one of the horses there. It is such a lovely attraction. You can take a look around the Museum, visit the horses inside and out and you can also see some pigs, Indian runner ducks and sheep. Fees apply

Find Out More HERE

Killhope Lead Mining Museum

19th Century mining museum located in the Pennines. You can explore the exhibition hall, go on a guided tour, view the largest collection of spar boxes. Free Entry

Credit Killhope Museum

Heatherslaw Corn Mill

We recently visited and had the best time! We got to take a look around the mill, had a mini tour and john was great with the boys talking about everything that happened in the mill. There's a little trail around for the kids too. Fees Apply

Find Out More HERE

Durham Cathedral

The Cathedral is just stunning, you can visit the museum which is in the great kitchen and you can take a closer look at St Cuthbert including his hand carved 7th century wooden coffin and his iconic Pectoral Cross how cool is that! Fees Apply (It is free to enter the cathedral)

Durham's Oriental Museum

Home to a massive range of artwork and artefacts from the cultures of north Africa and Asia. More than 36,000 objects, ranging in date from prehistory to the present day are housed in the museum’s galleries and stores.

Credit Durham's Oriental Museum


One of our favourites is 7stories, all three boys are bookworms so a museum dedicated to literature is just heaven. Lots to do, lots of interactive play. They also have an amazing little shop too. Free Entry

Newburn Hall Motor Museum

Originally a Territorial Army building, it now houses Veteran, Vintage and classic cars for all to look at. Fees Apply

Credit Newburn Hall Motor Museum

Hadrian's Wall

As you are probably aware, you can find some great attractions along Hadrian's wall. Check out this post for more details. HERE

Looking for ideas further out from the North East?

We recommend


Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum - A large scale living history museum with some magnificent artwork including Monet.

Riverside Museum of Transport - This has a mix of replica streets and lots of vehicles.

The Tall Ship Glenlee - outside of the Transport Museum. We think its pretty cool but its also pretty haunted.


One of the best museums I have ever visited is The National Museum Of Scotland in the 4 years we lived there, every time we visited the museum we always found something new. It is just a fantastic place to visit and it is packed to bursting with artefacts.

North Yorkshire

Jorvik - Something a bit different, you take a ride through Viking Jorvik experiencing the sights and smells. Then you get out of the ride and take a walk through the museum which has a Mummy and a large fossilised poo (Lots of other stuff too) but the boys thought the poo was cool. (I have never managed to get a decent photo in that building!)

Credit Jorvik

Ryedale Folk Museum

We have been to Ryedale many times over the years including a Christmas event and it is just fantastic. You can find a replica street, animals, Anglo Saxon house and lots more.

Whitby Museum

I have to point this out, Whitby Museum is a fantastic museum but be warned it is like a proper old fashioned museum. There are no added extras to keep the kids entertained it's basically artefacts to look at.


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