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“Not half the place it was”

Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens
Ranked #7 of 39 things to do in Sunderland
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens is a great place for the whole family to spend a day, giving you lots to see and do. Situated in the heart of the city, the museum has four floors of exciting galleries and exhibitions waiting to be discovered. Learn the story of the city and its people and of fascinating worlds beyond. A programme of special exhibitions features both our own amazing collections as well as some of the nation's treasures, brought here through out links with national museums. Regular events and activities for all ages, mean that there are so many reasons to come back, again and again. Admission to the museum is free. Charges may apply to some exhibitions. Opening Times: Monday to Saturday 10am - 4pm and 12 - 4pm Sundays
Useful Information: Food available for purchase, Wheelchair access, Stairs / lift, Activities for young children
Reviewed 3 October 2018 via mobile

When this place was built, it was not only a beautiful building, but filled with wondrous things.
Then they closed the front door forever, built a library round the back and a winter garden and filled that with a forest and tacky plastic dinosaurs and the things inside are less wonderful.

I suppose the grand front entrance was shut because it won’t access wheelchairs but it just spoils the whole effect.

I think they had to get rid of the stuffed walrus, the one that inspired Lewis Carroll’s poem, and the bit that’s left (head and tusk) is behind a glass partition next to a stuffed tiger!

Not as inspiring as it was.
Although the shiny helmet on the deep sea diver always gets me wanting to take it’s snap!

Thank EdwardoCalipso
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"mowbray park"
in 34 reviews
"tropical plants"
in 16 reviews
"coal mining"
in 18 reviews
"koi carp"
in 10 reviews
"natural history"
in 9 reviews
"glass house"
in 7 reviews
"well worth a visit"
in 41 reviews
"free entry"
in 25 reviews
"rainy day"
in 16 reviews
"interesting exhibits"
in 13 reviews
"all ages"
in 25 reviews
"different areas"
in 6 reviews
"few hours"
in 15 reviews
"gift shop"
in 15 reviews
"great for kids"
in 8 reviews
"great place to visit"
in 12 reviews
"couple of hours"
in 12 reviews
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6 - 10 of 532 reviews

Reviewed 3 October 2018

Have to admit upfront that I have been going to this museum since I was about 4 years old so it holds a lot of affection in my heart. I sat on the lions around the lake - the stone so polished in indication of many generations of other children doing the same - and leaned out over the water at a small point with a little rickety rail also leaning slightly over the wet - no longer exists; so much for health & safety regulations, I never fell in but may have gotten my toes wet on occasion. Inside, please look for the lion, in one of the first showcases through the door, he was always there but to the other side. (Bit ragged now but then memories are also.) The insects which used to surround him in cases which I had to be lifted up to see are long gone, as is the eagle with spread wings which was so intimidating to a small child. Also gone is the slatted staircase on the second floor, leading up from the display of Sunderland built boats, ropes & glass artefacts including rolling pins to be filled with water to keep the pastry cool. The third tread had a split (step softly in case it broke and my leg slipped through the gap and broke in the subsequent fall.) I think the ancient hollowed log boat which was at the bottom of the stair still remains, although elsewhere now but I don't know about the bust of the man with 'mutton chop' whiskers who loomed beside the stairway.
Now there are interactive displays & stuffed animals which surprised me only a few years ago by their proportions, I had seen them on television but was surprised by how much larger or smaller they were than I had imagined. There are also some living creatures in glass tanks (reptiles & insects) if you can make them out in the dimness alongside their preference to hide (as I would myself, installed in a glass tank). The 'Winter Garden' part has tropical plants & often dinosaur installations to appeal to children. If you visit alone, beware of the dizzying humidity when walking along the high gantry, I was relieved to get safely down.
The art gallery part often has good exhibitions, the portrait painting collections displayed every few years is particularly good. There are also frequent Lowry exhibitions (he made some rubbish sketches of boats to be frank) but I was interested to read in the local paper (Sunderland Echo) a year or so ago that he had frequented the Roker Hotel in the area. Apparently he offered a sketch he had done from his hotel window to a waitress there who declined on the grounds that she was 'not very interested in art' - must have kicked herself since!
The museum is free & well worth a look whether you are interested in Sunderland glass, painting exhibitions, (including recent ones by Grayson Perry which were actually quilting) or just the general history of the region or natural history.
I am probably biased by my long association with the place, but would still recommend a tour on a rainy day if you are around.

Thank twinfishesuk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 September 2018

Sorry not impressed at all. Small. Not keen on museums so it's a no no from us. It's free that's one good thing.

Thank Geordie112
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 September 2018

A museum in small sections which keeps your interest, with a facinating "outdoor" dinosaur area.Good for all ages.

Thank theblossoms
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 16 September 2018

Lovely place to take the kids - lots for them to see and do, and has a lovely park at the side if you want to feed the ducks or take a picnic.

Thank Sue W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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