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  • Writer's pictureKelly

Our visit to Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens and Mowbray Park

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I have always been quite outspoken when it comes to highlighting what we have on our own doorstep and I sometimes think the Sunderland Museum and Mowbray park are underrated.

We are quite lucky in that we only live a short walk away from the city centre, so we opted to leave the car at home and walk into town to enjoy the nice warm weather and the fact that we didn't need to take a jacket because no rain was forecast. Yippee!

Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens

I have memories of visiting the old Sunderland Museum when the entrance was opposite the pub with huge wooden doors.

Now you enter through automatic doors into the shop, this is usually the same exit but they have set up a seperate exit for the time being.

Friendly, chatty staff as always.

Upon entry you need to fill in a form with your details and pop it into a box for the Track and Trace scheme and the details will only be used if there has been a case of Covid-19 and you need to isolate. The Museum have introduced a one way system to help people distance themselves. You will also find lots of hand sanitising stations (automatic so you don't have to touch them)

Most of the museum is accessible to all with lifts here and there, they do have some of the interactive displays closed off and the playhouse on the first floor is also closed off. However there is still plenty to see and do.

The ground floor is where you will find Wallace the lion, the first ever car from Nissan and some little snakes in a pickle. You can also adventure through the coal mine section which used to have a neat little tunnel you could go through but, thanks to anti social behaviour years ago, it got sealed up. You can watch videos and look at the displays. We have been chatting with the boys about local history lately and with my Grandad being from a pit village they have all taken a real interest in this, so they really enjoyed visiting this section and finding out more about life in the pits.

The ground floor is also home to the Cafe, library (I can not believe how small it is, now that it has moved back into the museum building) the pottery section and the amazing Winter Gardens. A display of tropical plants and trees. Look out for the hidden dinos and the real life Koi that love attention! The walkway was closed when we visited but it was lovely and cool thanks to the waterfall.

You can then head upstairs where you will find a through the years display, gems, rocks and stuffed animals. There are no live animals unfortunately, as they had to be rehomed due to Covid-19. Don't miss the glass displays on your way up the stairs, giving a little insight into what was a massive industry in the area until fairly recently.

On the second floor you will find Toby and Adams favourite, Ship building. It is really interesting actually and has some really detailed displays along with a video and various activities for the younger kids.

You can also take a look around two art galleries, one currently has a Lowry display along with some paintings that stay here in the museum. The other gallery is for special exhibits.

On exiting you can get a free family take away pack which has great ideas for crafts, bird spotter and info. This is free with a suggested donation of £3

Info for the museum

Free Entry - No Booking Is Needed

Accessible to all

Toilets are available on every floor but the main toilets are on the ground floor.

Facemasks are needed

Track and Trace info taken on entry.

One way system in place

Some interactive displays are closed

Playhouse is closed on the first floor

Increased cleaning

Library is open

Live animals are no longer here

Max 20 people in the art galleries at any one time

Seperate entrance and Exit

Cafe is open

Winter Gardens walkway is closed and is also one way

Museum shop is open

Mowbray park

A beautiful 1830s park, one of the oldest municipal parks in North East England. Unfortunately the park has been given a bad name after anti social behaviour over the years. It is a really pretty park, so please don't let this put you off.

Lots of gorgeous trees to explore, so many different flowers to see.

Also home to a bandstand which hosts events throughout the year (when this type of event is allowed again.)

So many beautiful spots for a picnic here and there's even a really good playpark.

Don't Miss

*The William Hall drinking fountain

*Victoria Hall disaster monument (183 children were trampled to death in 1883)

*Various statues throughout the park

*The Little door, we have always said it's where the park fairies live but who knows if it even goes anywhere.

*Walrus - Inspired by Lewis Carroll and his love for Sunderland

You can also pop along to the local pet store and pick up some seed to feed the large amount of Ducks, pigeons and gulls who wait for visitors to bring along their delicious treats Be warned they are not scared of people. We like all the different coloured pigeons you can see, they are really pretty.

Only bad things we have said over the years is the Walrus should be looked after and cleaned regularly, the bird poop should be jet washed regularly and the pond could really do with draining and cleaning.

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