South Shields Museum & Art Gallery | A Visitor's Guide

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South Shields Museum & Art Gallery | A Visitor's Guide - entrance

I was chatting to my friend recently about our last visit to South Shields Museum & Art Gallery and they mentioned that they didn't realise that South Shields had its own museum. I do feel like despite being in a prominent position in the town centre, those who visit the popular seafront attractions and parks may not realise it is just a short walk away. 

South Shields Museum is FREE to visit with no booking required. There is an on-site cafe/tea room, it is very easy to get to by public transport and there are both permanent and temporary exhibitions. During school holidays, the museum organises free/low-cost events and activities too which are worth looking out for. 

South Shields Museum is a fantastic rainy day option - you can combine with the Word, Dunes soft play/bowling, the Pleasure Beach arcades / Laser tag or pottery painting at Crafty Corner - all indoor attractions within easy walking distance. 

I also strongly recommend combining a visit to South Shields Museum with a trip to Arbeia Roman Fort, again just a short walk away. Both attractions are free and compliment each other really well. 

South Shields Museum & Gallery is free to visit with no booking required. They are generally open Monday-Saturday and closed on Sundays (check their opening hours and what's on here). 

South Shields Museum & Art Gallery | Location 

South Shields Museum & Art Gallery | A Visitor's Guide  - location

South Shields Museum & Gallery is located in the heart of South Shields on the main High Street (Ocean Road). You can't miss it if you are walking past. 

The museum is super easy to get to by public transport and a 2 minute walk from South Shields Metro Station (remember up to three children aged 11 and under can travel free with every fare paying adult now). The Shields ferry terminal and bus station are also within a 10 minute walk. 

There is plenty of parking available in South Shields. On the day of our visit we parked outside of Arbeia Roman Fort which was free with no restrictions (always read the signs though) and walked from there to the museum. There are also free/paid/customer car parks available on the seafront and in the town centre. I always use parkopedia to find places to park. 

Address: South Shields Museum & Gallery. Ocean Road. South Shields. NE33 2JA.

South Shields Museum & Art Gallery | Accessibility 

South Shields Museum & Gallery is accessible for wheelchair users and pushchairs with level access and lifts throughout the building. There is seating at various points around the museum, wheelchairs are available to borrow, induction loop points are fitted around the building and there is an accessible toilet with baby change. You can read more about the museum's accessibility here. 

South Shields Museum & Art Gallery | Permanent Exhibitions

I really like visiting South Shields Museum. I have probably visited 5 or 6 times now and it is one of those places where each time I visit, I discover and learn something new. 

The 'Treasures' collection is where most people will start and includes a wide range of artefacts collected from South Tyneside (and sometimes beyond). I always love being greeted by this stuffed lion and he's a favourite with kids too. 

South Shields Museum & Art Gallery | A Visitor's Guide  - lion

Tales of South Tyneside is probably my favourite exhibition in the museum. It shares how South Tyneside has changed over the past few centuries from the boom in the Victorian era to how traditional industries have died out over the years and up to the regeneration the region has seen recently.

If you enjoy local history, this is a brilliant exhibition packed with interesting stories. It is nice to visit with grandparents too and I am sure they will enjoy the trip down memory lane. 

A unique aspect of this museum is that it has a small creature corner. This is completely free to visit and perfect for little ones who love animals. There are a range of critters, spiders, snakes and reptiles on display alongside information about their habitat and what they like to eat. It is just a small section (don't expect a whole farm) but definitely a highlight and worth visiting, especially with kids. 

South Shields Museum & Art Gallery | A Visitor's Guide  - animals

There is a traditional Victorian Tea Room tucked away inside South Shields Museum & Gallery and it is super reasonable with a range of offers available. Staff are dressed in traditional costumes and it has a very cosy feel. 

Food is homemade and their are various seasonal special offers including free biscuits with any hot drink in the afternoon or a slice of homemade quiche and salad for £3.90. These offers change regularly but it is worth popping by for a slice of cake and a natter. The tea room is around half way through the museum and an ideal stopping point.  

South Shields Museum & Art Gallery | A Visitor's Guide - Victorian Tearoom

Other permanent exhibitions include 'Changing Faces' which shares the history of South Tyneside from as far back as the Bronze Ages up to the 20th Century and there is an art gallery too. 

On the day of our visit, we were still living under some Government restrictions and many of the hands on activities were not available. I do believe that as time goes on and restrictions ease, these will re-open. There is a fab rocking horse for example which is a big hit with kids. 

I will say that the measures that were in place during our visit felt very safe and well thought out with lots of hand sanitiser and clear one-way routes through the museum as well as enhanced cleaning of touch points. 

Temporary Exhibitions at South Shields Museum & Art Gallery 

South Shields Museum & Gallery has a flexible temporary exhibition space and we have visited some fantastic exhibitions here over the years (with a real favourite being the LEGO® exhibition featuring local landmarks a few years ago). 

At the moment, the space is hosting Sheila from Shields, her cat & the rainbow. The exhibition is free to visit with no booking required and on show until 30 October 2021. 

South Shields Museum & Art Gallery | A Visitor's Guide  - Sheila from Shields

The exhibition celebrates the 81 years of art, animation and illustration of Sheila Graber who was born in South Shields in 1940. Sheila has worked on projects with Blue Peter, Paddington the Just So Stories & more and Sheila's work has won multiple awards and been shown widely around the world. 

The exhibition did open right at the start of the pandemic and during this time, Sheila was able to add to the exhibition and change the shape of it slightly and it now offers a chance to reflect. I am not sure if 'enjoy' is the word I should use but I really did feel a connection to the above section sharing the historical links to pandemics and how there are dark times which are usually followed by good times (and rainbows!). 

The exhibition also shares a little behind the scenes of how drawings and ideas are brought to life and I would recommend to any families with budding artists. It is also lovely to see such a celebration of one of South Shields' residents. I didn't know much about Sheila Graber before I visited but now I do and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn more about a local legend in the arts. 

South Shields Museum & Art Gallery | Events 

New events are regularly added to the calendar at South Shields Museum. Events here are popular and regularly sell out. You can check out what's coming up here

Upcoming events include: 
  • Street Games Workshops - most dates have sold out but at time of publishing, there are still some free tickets available for 16 October. These workshops allow visitors to have a go at traditional street games including skippies and hopskotch. Book your free place here. 

  • 25 September | Ways to Play - Craft a Kitty Keyring. Book your free place here. 
I highly recommend joining Must See Museums if you haven't already. It is free to join and you will be sent information about what's on across Tyne & Wear Museums plus in some cases, offered priority booking. You can sign up (for free) here. 

To end this post, I just wanted to mention that South Shields Museum is home to a lovely little gift shop at the entrance. There are local history items, books and pocket money toys for sale. I am really going to try and shop local where I can for Christmas gifts this year and our local museum gift shops are perfect for picking up stocking fillers or gifts for those who are difficult to buy for. Something to keep in mind if you are visiting in the coming months. 

You can find out more about visiting South Shields Museum & Gallery here:

Check out my other posts featuring Tyne and Wear Museums below: 


1 comment

  1. Very animated summary of all aspects of our fab museum at Shields Sam.. and thanks for the mention .. glad u enjoyed COVID Corridor


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