Discovery Museum Newcastle : Visitor Guide & Tips

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Discovery Museum Newcastle : Visitor Guide & Tips


This post has been written as if everything is open as normal. Please check the 'Covid' section in this post to read about our experience of visiting the museum during the pandemic and check with the Discovery Museum website before visiting to check which areas will be open. 


Discovery Museum Newcastle | Why You Should Visit 

Discovery Museum Newcastle : Visitor Guide & Tips


The Discovery Museum a free-to-visit attraction in the heart of Newcastle Upon Tyne focusing on Science and Local History. There are several permanent exhibitions alongside regular temporary exhibitions and a fantastic programme of family events (usually free/low-cost). 

The museum is pretty big and we have visited several times over the years yet there are still parts we haven't discovered / facts we have yet to learn. 

My favourite sections of the Discovery Museum focus on Newcastle's local history. I really enjoy reading about our city through the ages from Medieval times right up to the modern day. The walk down memory lane is always nice to do with multi-generations (if restrictions/guidance allow) and I think the Discovery Museum is one of the best places in Newcastle to visit with grandparents. In fact, there is something for all ages here and my three get just as much out of their visits now as they did when they were toddlers / younger. 

The staff and volunteers at the Discovery Museum are always so enthusiastic, they really are passionate about Newcastle and welcoming visitors and will help in any way they can. The staff and volunteers really stand out as being one of the best teams I have met. 

Finally, the Discovery Museum is accessible and there is plenty of space for pushchairs and wheelchairs. There is a cafe too which is a nice place to have a seat and break up your visit and the loos are nice and clean.  

My default is always to say that the Discovery Museum is a fab place to spend a rainy day but actually, I think it is a brilliant day out whatever the weather. We usually spend 1-2 hours there when we visit. 

The Discovery Museum is managed by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums on behalf of Newcastle City Council. Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums Development Trust is registered with the charity commission and in 2021, they need to raise £220,000 to ensure art, culture and heritage continue to make a positive impact in the North East.

Although it is free to visit the museum, please donate if you can. There are designated collection points throughout the museum where you can donate cash or you can donate online here (and also read a little more about some of the amazing work the teams carry out across the region). 

Discovery Museum Newcastle | Location, Parking & Public Transport 


At the moment, the museum is open daily 10am-4pm Monday-Friday and 11am-4pm Saturday & Sunday (closed on Bank Holidays) and you need to pre-book your free tickets online. This information may change so please check with the Discovery Museum for up-to-date information before visiting. 

The Discovery Museum is located in Blandford Square and is just a short walk from Newcastle Central Station making it super accessible by public transport (trains, the metro and buses stop here). Sometimes it is more convenient for us to catch a bus to Haymarket and even then the walk is very manageable - around 15-20 minutes through town. 

Address: Discovery Museum. Blandford Square, Newcastle Upon Tyne. NE1 4JA. 

If you wish to travel by car, there is a small car park right outside of the museum (Blandford Square Car Park) or the larger Grainger Town Multi Story is a few minutes away. 

The museum is easy to spot - look out for the bright blue arch and there is a replica tank outside. 




Discovery Museum Newcastle | Facilities & Accessibility 

Accessibility Information

The Discovery Museum is accessible and suitable for wheelchairs & pushchairs. They have a decent accessibility page on their website which you can read here. 


Highlights include: 
  • Accessible toilets on three floors 
  • A changing places toilet with a bench and hoist
  • Baby changing facilities in both the male and female toilets 
  • An accessible toilet with a day bed and shower with seat 
  • Large handed cutlery available in the cafe on request 
  • Induction loops throughout the museum 
  • Visitor guides available in various formats (eg large print / audio / braille) 
  • Two wheelchairs available to borrow 
  • Large static visual and touch orientation maps on every floor 
  • Three public lifts with voice announcers and braille indicators 
Please note, during the pandemic, some facilities may not be available. Please email info@discoverymuseum.org.uk , call 0191 232 6789 or Textphone 18001 0191 232 6789 with any questions or for up to date info.  

I don't have a disability myself and hope I am not speaking for those who do but as someone who tries to write inclusive reviews I find it super frustrating when there is no accessibility information available to access pre-visit so a huge well-done to Tyne & Wear Museums for doing this and for having so many well thought-out adaptations. I hope that one day this is industry standard and I no longer need to highlight good practice. 

Cafe & Toilets 

Find the Turbina Cafe on the second floor. It is a nice open space serving homemade food and refreshing drinks. They are currently open 10:30am - 3:30pm. At the moment, there is no indoor picnic place inside of the museum and you are asked not to bring food and drink into the museum with you. 




There are male, female and accessible toilets across three floors and a changing places toilet is available. Baby changing facilities are available in both the male and female toilets and I found the loos to be really clean during our recent visit. The door into the loos (not the cubicle door - the main door) is automatic. A 'touch free' entrance makes me happy! 

Gift Shop 


At the entrance / exit you will find a lovely gift shop selling exhibition-specific items, local gifts and pocket money toys. 


Discovery Museum Newcastle | Permanent Exhibitions 

Turbina 


Turbina will be one of the first things you spot as you enter the museum. It was once the fastest ship in the world and now lives in the central hall of the museum. A must-see for ship and engineering fans. 

Destination Tyneside 


This is one of my most treasured exhibitions in the museum. It shares the changes in population and how migration has changed the shape of Tyneside over the years. 


The exhibition shares how Tyneside is made up of many different cultures and gives us the opportunity to delve into their stories. 

During the pandemic, I probably spoke with the same handful of people across the whole year and I have to say, visiting an exhibition like this really was a tonic and helped to re-open the world to me beyond my four walls. 


I find exhibitions like this to be fascinating as we are actually living through these changes. I love this simple bar graph showing how the population of Newcastle has changed over the years. 


Part of the exhibition includes a huge feature wall sharing snippets of stories from people who have made Tyneside their home. I could spend ages reading them all and it really makes you realise how special Newcastle is and proud that so many people have fallen in love with the region and decided to make a life here. 




Newcastle Story 

As mentioned above, this is my favourite exhibit in the museum. It is packed full of history and facts about Newcastle and how life has changed over the years. 

We have visited many times but still learn new info (or are reminded of it). For example, below Harry is sharing that the original Newcastle castle was built by William the Conqueror's son. Who knew? 


As you wind around the exhibition you wander into different time periods and each section has their own timeline. Honestly it is brilliant for history buffs / fact fans or just those who are interested in learning more about where they live. 


There are a couple of hands on sections like this barrel below which was used as a punishment. Imagine having to walk the streets like Dee here? 

There is a lot of reading in this exhibition so I do think it is more suitable for older kids however little ones will enjoy all of the displays and models too. 


We learned about the Great Fire of Newcastle during Lockdown 1.0 so it was brilliant to see an actual real life exhibition about it. 


Newcastle Story includes an immersive walk through the last century too with one section dedicated to each decade. You can walk through Newcastle during the war, through the 60s and 70s and right up to the present day. The kids loved the Tardis-like entrance. 



I much prefer modern history to ancient history and the last few sections of this exhibition are right up my street. Although spotting something you remember from your own youth in a museum is slightly unsettling! I love the selection of items chosen to remember these recent times though and it will be interesting to see which items make the next decade..... 





Science Maze 


The Science Maze is perfect for all ages - you will find lots of fun, interactive exhibitions and experiments to try and there is plenty of hands on (and educational) fun. 


We loved the pinball machine (above) on a recent visit and set up a mini family tournament (which I spectacularly lost). There is air hockey too. 

You can learn all about light with simple experiments and shadow walls.....


There is even a mirror maze. Not all of the interactive elements will be open during the pandemic but there is still enough open to make it worth a trip in my opinion. 




Story of Tyne 



This exhibition shares the history and importance of the River Tyne. Expect models and displays including some of the native wildlife you can expect to find in the area. 


How cool is this Eastenders-esque map of the Tyne? It's huge and fun to spot local landmarks / where grannie and grandad live. I think the map is from the 1930s so you can see how the landscape has changed over the last 100 years too. 



Tyneside Challenge 

This exhibition shares some of the important inventions which have been created here in the North East from Stephenson's locomotives to some of the lesser known creations. 

Working Lives 

This gallery shares the lives of real Tyneside residents and is a record of what life has been like for every day people here over the past 300 years. 

Play Tyne 

Credit : Discovery Museum 

This popular water play area for under 7s has a small additional charge (£1.50) and can also be booked out for birthday parties. The interactive River Tyne allows childrens to get hands on with the different ways water can be used. Little ones can turn the Swing Bridge, tilt the Millenium bridge and make way for the boats that sail down the Tyne. There are cars and boats to play with too. Aprons and dryers are provided but it might be an idea to bring a change of clothes. 

My mam used to regularly bring her foster children here and they really enjoyed it and I know lots of parents really rate this section of the museum as being the best. 

Sadly, at time of publishing (and due to social distancing), Play Tyne is temporarily closed. Keep an eye on the Discovery Museum website for updates. Fingers crossed it can reopen safely soon.  

Enigma & The North East 

The museum is home to a rare Enigma machine which was used to code secret messages during WWII. Here you can find out how the North East played their role in helping code breakers. 

Play + Invent 


A little throwback photo from one of the Play+Invent sessions we have attended over the years. This feels like it was only yesterday but look at how little the kids are! Time flies. 

The Play + Event space is currently used for special events (usually a small additional charge and pre-booking required). It is a very cool crafting space where families can get creative and invent / have fun. Check out the Discovery Museum's 'What's On' section of their website to see what's coming up. I recommend booking sooner rather than later as Play + Invent events are super popular. 

We have had so much fun in this space over the years and always think the events here offer exceptional value for money. 

Charge! The Story of England's Northern Cavalry 

Explore England's Northern Cavalry and their work through the years with historic accounts, hands on activities and a full size War Horse sculpture. 

As you can see, there is plenty to keep you occupied with a visit to the museum and there is something for all interests and ages. As well as the permanent exhibits and galleries above, there is also a programme of ever-changing temporary exhibitions and events too. There really is always something new to see and experience. 

Discovery Museum Newcastle | Temporary Exhibitions & Events 

RAF Red Arrows Simulator (until 28 February 2022)


Experience the thrill of flying with the Red Arrows with this simulator experience. There is a small additional charge, height restriction (1.07m) and other booking stipulations but it is a fantastic add-on to your museum experience. Find out more and book here. 

Museum Trails (until January 2025) 

If you would like to get something different from your museum experience or try something new, a museum trail could be for you. They are free to download and print at home or you can connect to the museum's WiFi and view on your phone/device once in the museum. There are three trails in total: 
  • Colourful Discoveries 
  • Climate Change 
  • Discover Her Story

Summer Events Available To Book Now 

On publication, the Discovery Museum already has 17 events available to book now for Summer 2021. You can view them all and book here. 

Highlights include: 

  • Discovery Days (with themes around Flight / Space / Super Sports / Energy / Transport/ Codes && Puzzles, Fairground Fun & more) 
  • Family Challenge (Crazy Golf or Marble Run) 
  • Summer Science Club 



Discovery Museum Newcastle | Visiting During the Pandemic 


We last visited the Discovery Museum in May Half Term 2021 when we were living under Coronavirus restrictions. The information in this section may change as guidance changes but I thought you might like to know some of the measures in place which in my opinion, go above and beyond. 
  • Pre-booked entry only with limited numbers 
  • A clear one-way system around the museum 
  • Staff, volunteers and visitors to wear face coverings (unless exempt) 
  • Track and Trace information recorded 
  • Hand sanitising stations throughout the museum and near touch points 
  • Increased cleaning - one reader messaged me to say they were so impressed to see staff discretely cleaning areas as visitors moved through 
  • Contactless payments 
  • Food & drinks brought to your table in the cafe, tables which are available and have been cleaned and sanitised have a notice on them to say you can use them
A thorough risk assessment has been carried out and sadly, some areas of the museum where a one-way system/social distancing is not possible or areas with exhibits which cannot be easily cleaned/sanitised remain closed at this time. Personally, I would rather stay safe and be able to still support our local museums with a visit but I know it will be disappointing to some that not area is open at this time. Closed areas include: 
  • Play Tyne 
  • Play + Invent (with the exception of event days)
  • Hands on exhibitions in some galleries 
  • Soft play in the Science Maze 
I also found a lot of the seating areas around the museum to be closed off so it was handy to have the cafe halfway around the route. 

Remember, this is an ever-changing situation and the exhibitions which can open may have changed since this post was published. You can find the most up-to-date information here. 

There was still more than enough to keep us entertained with older kids and the toddlers there seemed to be having fun too. Not every interactive element has closed and I would still say the museum is worth a visit at this time. 

For me, it felt so good to be back in a museum after so long and I really felt as if I just wanted to soak everything up as I walked around. I really appreciated being able to visit, even more so than usual. 

Discovery Museum Newcastle | Top Tips For Visiting 

  • Bring the grandparents (if current guidelines allow). They will love sharing their stories with you as you walk through Newcastle's history 
  • Sign up to the 'Must See Museums' newsletter here. It's FREE and you will be the first to hear about new events and updates. Members usually have access to priority booking too. 
  • In 'normal' times, the museum has several areas which can be hired relatively cheaply for children's birthday parties and events and you can bring your own food - something which is rare in the city centre. Find out more about hiring the venue here. 
  • The museum is home to a FREE water refill station on the ground floor 
  • If you are unable to visit the museum, there is a wealth of at-home learning resources available on their website here
  • At the moment, you need to pre-book a free ticket. I recommend setting aside 90 minutes - 2 hours if visiting with kids who like to read information and get involved with exhibitions. I would suggest an hour for a gentle saunter through. 
  • You can bring a pushchair and there are lifts throughout the building 
  • Book events as soon as you can as they are popular and generally sell out 

Discovery Museum Newcastle | What To Do Nearby 

When we visited over half term, we combined with a little shopping in Newcastle and a trip to the Great North Museum. This was a long day though and we walked almost 17k steps. It is worth visiting both museums on the same day if you don't visit Newcastle regularly and wish to make a day of it (and both are free to visit too). 

Other attractions within the immediate vicinity of the Discovery Museum include Life Science Centre, Tyne Theatre and Opera House, Dance City, Newcastle Helix (they sometimes host special events) and Newcastle Quayside. Central Station is just a short walk away too and it is easy to catch the Metro to Segedunum in Wallsend or the coast. 


Phew! Well done for making it to the bottom of this post. I hope you can see how much I love this museum. If you are a little nervous about visiting indoor attractions but feel ready, it is a brilliant place to start as it is large and spacious with limited numbers and lots of brilliant measures in place. The team really are doing all they can to ensure visitors both enjoy their experience but can do so as safely as possible too. 

I would recommend the museum to everyone and visitors and locals alike will enjoy a trip here. It is a brilliant ambassador for the region and people of Tyneside. 

Find out more here: https://discoverymuseum.org.uk/









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1 comment

  1. We visited the Discovery Museum a few years ago and loved it. It really is a great day out it being free is even better. x

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