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Great North Museum: Hancock

Tyne and Wear

Intellectual life

The Great North Museum: Hancock opened its doors in 1884, and was named the Hancock Museum in 1891 in memory of John and Albany Hancock, brothers who had been instrumental in its construction. It was the museum of the Natural History Society of Northumberland. Its collections, including the largest species type collection in the UK outside London, contain more than half a million objects and are now designated as being of national and international significance.

In 2006 the museum closed for a major redevelopment. Reopening in 2009 as The Great North Museum: Hancock, it now incorporates collections not only from the former Hancock Museum, but also from the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle and the Shefton Museum of Greek and Etruscan Art. It is currently the most visited free museum in the North of England.

Newcastle has always been a centre of intellectual activity, particularly in the 19th century when anyone who was anyone was a member of one or more of the great societies that thrived in the city. The museum now stands as evidence of this intellectual flourishing in the North East, and of the current popularity of museums in the Region.

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