Essential Information

What can I do at the museum?

The museum galleries are the reason that we are here and can help you to explore your topics from history and science through to numeracy, literacy and art. We have created a wide range of worksheets to help you to do that. We also have various boxes of gallery resources which you can book to use during your visit.

We offer workshops from Early Years upwards. These generally last 45 minutes and cover a wide range of topics related to our collections.

Our Planetarium has several shows about space and you can also discover the giant marine reptiles from the time of the dinosaurs.

What time are you open?

On weekdays, the museum opens at 10am and closes at 5pm. If you would like to come at the weekend for a pre-visit, we are open 10am – 4pm on Saturdays and 11am – 4pm on Sundays.

Our workshops usually run at times between 10.15 and 2.00. If your workshop ends at 2.00, we recommend not booking the bus until 2.15 at the earliest to give time for collecting belongings, toilet trips etc.

How much does it cost?

Museum entry is free, as are all our workshops – but we welcome donations! We recommend a donation of £1 per head for school visits. For a minimum donation of £30, you can have a butterfly on our Butterfly Wall which children will be able to see on future visits. The donations to the Butterfly Wall support our learning and family programmes and help to keep what we do free. Please make donation cheques payable to ‘Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums Development Fund’.

The one aspect of schools engagement for which we charge is the Planetarium. This costs £25 per showing. For most groups, this works out at considerably less per head than buying individual child tickets to a show; it also entitles you to a private showing which we will arrange at a suitable time within your visit. For Planetarium shows, please pay on the day by cash or a cheque made payable to ‘Newcastle City Council’.

How do I book a visit?

You can send an enquiry through our website and we will respond to you, but the best way to book is by phone as it allows us to make sure that you receive the best possible information about what we can offer your group, to find a suitable date and to make sure that we have any additional information about your group which can make your visit run more smoothly.

To make your booking, we will need to know:

  • - the date you want to visit
  • - the name of the school
  • - the school postcode
  • - a contact phone number
  • - a contact e-mail address
  • - what you would like to do on your visit
  • - whether you will need a lunch space
  • - the year group/age and number of children
  • - whether anyone in the group has any additional access to learning requirements
  • - whether anyone in the group would need help leaving the building in case of an emergency
  • - what time you want to arrive at the museum and leave again

I’m not having a workshop – do I still need to book?

Please do book your visit even if you don’t want to do a workshop. We cannot guarantee you will have a lunch space if you don’t book and it also helps us to provide you with storage facilities and to make sure that you get all the resources which will support your visit.

How far in advance can I book a visit?

We open for bookings for a term from just after the previous half term (so, for example, bookings for the summer term open just after February half term). We would recommend booking as early as possible because we do get booked up fast. It is particularly important to get in touch early if you have a limited range of dates which would be suitable for your group.

Usually we run science workshops on Mondays and Thursdays; history workshops on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; and Early Years workshops on Wednesdays and Fridays. This relates to staff and room availability.

What if I can’t have a workshop?

We try to accommodate as many groups for workshops as possible, but we do become fully booked – and most visits will include some self-led elements, even if you do book a workshop too.

A self-led visit to the museum can still be excellent. Our downloadable resources allow you to plan different activities during your visit. They are aimed both at the museum collection and the school curriculum, so that they may deal with a gallery-based topic, such as Ancient Egypt, or a more curriculum-led idea such as classification. We also have worksheets suggesting games and activities and a scavenger hunt.

We have developed a range of gallery resources which complement the worksheets. Currently, we have resources for:

These all contain things to help pupils engage with the galleries and include items such as costumes for dressing up; handling objects; puzzles; flash cards; literacy cubes etc.

Booking a Planetarium visit can give you another activity for your visit. We have different shows appropriate for a variety of age groups and curriculum topics; you can find details here.

Can my group do more than one workshop on their visit?

We usually restrict groups to one workshop per child per visit because we are a small team and have high demand, so want to make sure that as many schools as possible have the opportunity to engage in a workshop. The museum is here because of its objects and galleries, so we do want groups to use the museum itself as part of their visit – we have developed worksheets and gallery resource boxes to help with that. In addition, you can also book a Planetarium show as part of your visit. For animals topics, why not consider a Nature Detectives visit, where you have a workshop in the museum in the morning and visit Gosforth Park Nature Reserve for hands-on activities with the Natural History Society of Northumbria in the afternoon?

I think your museum has some great stuff for my topic, but I can’t see a workshop about it – what can I do?

Give us a call! We are always looking to develop our programme and we may be able to work with you to develop something appropriate.

What are your maximum/minimum group sizes and how many adults should we bring?

Generally our minimum group size is 8, although we may make exceptions for SEN groups or KS5. Our maximum group size for workshops is around 30 and no more than 30 children can fit into the Planetarium for one showing.

The number of adults for a group depends on the group. For Early Years groups, we recommend an adult: child ratio of around 1:4. At KS1 and KS2 we would recommend 1:6. For KS3 upwards, we would recommend a 1:15 staffing level. Your knowledge of your own pupils will obviously help to inform the levels of staffing required. Please note that whatever the age of the school party, you are responsible for the behaviour of the group at all times.

What is the best time to catch you on the phone?

We are a small team and, like teachers, we are often away from our desks. Generally, it is easier to get us on the phone before 10am or after 2.15 pm. You can also leave a message on the answerphone or e-mail us on learning@greatnorthmuseum.org.uk and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Do you have a gift shop?

Yes, our gift shop has a wide range of items related to the museum collections from pocket money prices upwards. We can arrange pre-booked goody bags for your class if that would be easier for you. We do ask that when taking a class to the gift shop you split them into smaller groups so that the limited space does not become too crowded.

Do you have disabled access?

We aim to be accessible to all. The museum has flat entry both at the front and at the schools entrance and the galleries are all wheelchair accessible. We have blue badge parking on site. There are disabled toilets and wheelchair accessible lifts. Our doors have automatic opening wherever possible. You can find more details of all of these on the visitor map.

Our learning rooms have a loop system which can be used with most hearing aids. We are also happy to use personal microphone systems where necessary or to produce handouts in larger typeface formats. Most of our workshops include object handling, so we can make the style of the workshop more suitable for those with visual impairment through the use of those objects. Please do let us know in advance if this would help a member of your group – we will do our very best to help with anyone’s access needs on the day, but can do much better with some preparation time!

We have developed a set of sensory bags for use particularly by children on the autistic spectrum or with ADHD. These aim to provide a portable calming environment and include ear defenders, fiddle toys, heatable and weighted toys and textured cushions. The bags can be booked for a member of your group to use throughout their visit. Our information with these bags also identifies quiet spaces within the museum should you need to find a calm area.

All of our downloadable worksheets are produced in Word format so that they can be edited to make them more appropriate for your group where necessary – that could be for typeface, language level or just to make them more bespoke to your topic.

Because individual access needs vary so widely, please do get in touch with the learning team before your visit on 0191 208 6865 so that we can ensure those needs are met.

Do you have a workshop programme for SEND groups?

We aim to make our workshop programme accessible to all. For that reason, we do not offer separate SEND workshops, but will work with you to make our existing workshops appropriate for your group. Please call us on 0191 208 6865 to discuss what you need.

Do you have on-site parking?

Our on-site parking is for blue badge holders only. We can sometimes accommodate school minibuses, but for non-blue badge holders, this will depend on other activities on a particular day.

There is a coach drop-off point on Claremont Road, right beside the museum. A set of steps and a ramp lead up from the layby to the Schools Entrance. Please note that this is a drop-off layby, not a parking space, so your bus driver will need to find somewhere else to park.

There is paid street parking close to the museum and a carpark further up Claremont Road – the Newcastle University maps here will show you where to look.

Do you have a place to eat a packed lunch?

We do not have a dedicated packed lunch area because of space restrictions in the building, but we will book a lunch space for your group either in one of our teaching rooms or in Butterfly Corner, which is a quiet, back-gallery area with some seating. Please let us know when you book if you will require a lunch space as it is often difficult to provide a space for groups who have not booked in advance.

Because we have lots of groups wanting to visit, our lunch times have to be structured to ensure the maximum usage. That means that groups are allocated a 30 minute slot for lunch and we do ask that you keep to that time, or it impacts on other groups visiting on that day. If your group includes young people with disabilities which mean that they need longer for lunch than this (for example because of needing to be fed) please let us know when you contact us about making your booking and we will do our best to help.

You are always welcome to go and eat on the museum lawn if you would like to do so – but we would not normally recommend relying on the weather as an alternative to booking an indoor space!

Do you have somewhere to store our things?

We usually allocate groups one of our ‘tidy trucks’ to store their coats and bags. On very busy days, you may be asked to store your belongings in a room. We will always provide a storage space for groups who are lunching on-site but very occasionally we may have to ask groups who are not lunching to keep their coats with them. This will only happen at times of peak demand.

Please note that we do not lock our storage trucks, so please keep your valuables on your person or use the lockers at the front of the museum. These cost £1 each.

Can I take photographs in the museum?

Yes, you can photograph any part of the collection. We do ask that you try to avoid photographing people not in your own group.

Do you have a risk assessment for us?

We do not produce a risk assessment for schools as the risks relate to the group as well as to the venue, but we have a Hazard ID sheet which you can use to write your own risk assessment.

We are accredited as part of the Learning Outside the Classroom scheme and can e-mail you the certificate if necessary.

What if I need to cancel my visit?

If you have to cancel a booking please contact the Museum immediately to arrange an alternative date.

If a school or group cancels a booking fewer than 14 days before a charged activity, they will be required to pay 50% of the total cost. No cancellation charge will apply to cancelled self-led visits or those including a non-charging workshop.

If the Museum has to cancel the workshop, we will endeavour to give the school or group 14 days notice. In the unlikely event of this happening, the school or group will not be charged.