Sunderland Museum And Winter Gardens
Museum Sunderland Tyne And Wear

Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens

Museum In Sunderland, Tyne And Wear

Something for all ages, from dinosaurs to mining, shipbuilding, glass, art, natural history, and an arboretum!

At first I got confused and thought that the Winter Gardens referred to Mowbray Park and had typical winter plants. Then the penny dropped and it refers to the Arboretum!

We have tended to visit the Museum and Winter Gardens in the cooler months and walk through Mowbray Park from the southeast side.

The history of The Sunderland Museum And Winter Garden starts with The Sunderland Natural History and Antiquarian Society which was taken over in 1845 by The Sunderland Corporation due to the Museums Act.

This was the second publicly funded museum after London The Museum, Art Gallery, Library and Winter Gardens were opened in 1879.

The building was designed by J and T Tilman who were local Architects. They fashioned it like a French Chateau and built it in Sandstone ashlar with a slate roof.

The original Winter Gardens was designed like Crystal Palace. The glass for both was supplied by local merchants James and John Hartley whose company, Wear Glassworks was off Hylton Road, Sunderland.

It had a pond with goldfish and white lilies. There was a north-facing fernery and birds such as parrots and doves that were kept in cages.

Unfortunately, a parachute mine in 1941 caused unrepairable damage and it was demolished a year later. The current Winter Gardens is a contemporary glass rotunda completed in 2001.

It has over 150, plants, from 100 species, some of them tropical.

The mezzanine stairs in the Winter Gardens take you to an upper balcony which gives another perspective of the trees and plants.

You can sometimes see over Mowbray Park if the windows are not too steamy.

The Bismarckia Palm certainly likes the conditions and has grown to the ceiling

Back downstairs there are colourful koi carpe and a feature waterfall. Plants include Devil's Ivy which could be so named as it looks attractive but is toxic.

There are a range of plants from all over the world including cacti and banana plants

Look out for dinosaurs and their eggs too. Not sure if they are herbivores or carnivores!

In the museum I have just picked out a few items that got our attention.

Wallace the Lion was part of a touring show which came to Sunderland in 1868 and when he died a few years later he was stuffed and displayed here. Victorian children enjoyed sitting on his back of which there are a few photographs out there. Now it is a selfie with Wallace tucked in a glass display. Can also spot the walrus head? This came from Siberia in the 1880s. The car was the first off the production line in 1986 from the Nissan factory nearby. That makes it a classic car now.

The coal mining industry is represented by displays featuring Hylton Colliery AKA Castletown Colliery. There is the Lodge Banner and some cheery brass band music playing.

The lady in the photograph looks like she is having a good time.

Someone has made a model of the colliery

The huge lump of coal is not normally what the miners would have brought up from the mine. This piece was for an exhibition.

Upstairs in the main building, there is information, displays, and art regarding the chemically inert material known as glass.

I found the glass art pieces interesting after reading and absorbing the information.

Ordered Chaos was more than it seemed at first glance.

There is gallery containing glorious oil paintings many by Victorian artists such as Thomas Faed and John Collier.

I liked Ernest Normand's oil of 'Esther Denouncing Haman to King Ahasuerus'..

There is a good selection of Laurence Stephen Lowry's work as he affectionately liked Sunderland and visited often.

This one of Lowry's caught my eye The Sea at Sunderland for it being so different and not a lot to see at first. Reading the note gives it gravitas.

The Natural History section covered a wide range of objects.

The Victorians were known for their stuffed animals as an educational tool. Can you name all these?

The upper floor contained the ship building industry and life between 1880 and 1950.

There are some detailed models of ships built on the River Wear when it was 'the largest shipbuilding town in the world'.

Please go explore and see what you find!

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How To Find Sunderland Museum And Winter Gardens

Where Is Sunderland Museum And Winter Gardens?

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54.904256, -1.380273

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Where To Park For Sunderland Museum And Winter Gardens?

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54.901426, 54.901426

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There is parking on the street nearby such as Egerton Street and a pleasant walk through Mowbray Park from the south east Corner.

Contributed by Rosalind Parker

Thanks for reading through and getting to the end of this post. I enjoy exploring the Fabulous North (Especially as a Southerner residing up North). I like 'snippets' of information, and more so, if they are obscure, amusing or meaningful. The photographs are taken on a mobile phone, without any enhancements.

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