By Jo Anderson, Assistant Keeper of Archaeology, Great North Museum: Hancock.

Irtyru — the mummified woman displayed in the Great North Museum: Hancock — is well known to generations of adults and children from Newcastle upon Tyne and beyond. Irtyru has been in the museum now for a very long time. Over that period, there have been many changes in how society views the display of human remains. Our historical relationship with her could be viewed as problematic, and our current relationship is proving to be just as tricky.

The morals and ethics of museums displaying human remains have changed…

This month, the Shipley Art Gallery interviewed Mella Shaw — ceramicist, guest lecturer, writer, freelance curator and winner of the 2020 Henry Rothschild Bursary. In our conversation, Mella reflects on her career, inspirations and progress with her latest project, Rare Earth.

By Gemma Ashby, Assistant Keeper of History, Discovery Museum

Free a Man for the Fleet

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM) is about to commence on a partnership project with the Imperial War Museums (IWM) examining stories of the Second World War and exploring its diverse history on Tyneside. Find out more about the project here.

One of our main focuses for this project will be to consider the experiences of women on Tyneside during that time: the women who stepped in to new roles, the women who had increasing caring responsibilities at home and the anxiety they must…

By Jane Saul, Postgraduate student, MA by Research, University of Exeter, working on poor relief in Eighteenth Century Battersea

‘Church and House in Landscape’, late eighteenth century drawing, pencil and watercolour on paper by artist William Beilby (1740–1819), courtesy Laing Art Gallery

Amongst the holdings of the Laing Art Gallery is a watercolour simply entitled Church and House in Landscape by William Beilby. To connoisseurs of eighteenth century art William Beilby’s name is associated primarily with the fine, enamelled glass for which the Beilby family was renowned. Born in Durham in 1740, the son of a silversmith, William Beilby served an apprenticeship to an enameller in Birmingham, before joining his brother Ralph in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1760, where together with their sister…

By Helen Vasey, Assistant Keeper of History, Discovery Museum

In our Google Arts & Culture exhibition ‘The Female Form Through Time’ we look at how women’s silhouettes have changed from the Victorian period to the end of the 20th century.

Here we will take a closer look at the variety and choice of styles that emerged in the 1970s, and in particular the length of women’s skirts.

The mini-skirt continued to be popular into the 1970s. Mini-dresses were often shift dresses and not very fitted, to give a youthful figure.

By Jean Scott, Chairman and Co-ordinator for Volunteer Guides, Friends of the Laing Art Gallery

The Friends of the Laing provide invaluable support to the Gallery by raising money and awareness of its exhibitions, collections and events, and help to acquire new works/conservation. This article presents a virtual insight into the Henry Hetherington Emmerson painting A Foreign Invasion, which is part of the Laing’s collection.

‘A Foreign Invasion’ c.1871 by Henry Hetherington Emmerson (1831–95), Laing Art Gallery, TWCMS : G3888

To help with the monotony of lockdown I have walked almost daily in my local cemetery passing by the grave of Henry Hetherington Emmerson (1831–95) who painted this picture. It shows entertainers performing in Cullercoats…

By Helen Vasey, Assistant Keeper of History, Discovery Museum

The Pride rainbow flag was debuted in 1978 in San Francisco, USA. It was designed by the artist Gilbert Baker and commissioned by Harvey Milk, a local politician in San Francisco. Since 1978, there has been a variety of designs and the colours used have changed over the years.

The Equality Ribbon, TWCMS : 2000.4651

Each colour has a meaning: Red = life, Orange = healing, Yellow = sunlight, Green = nature, Blue = harmony, Violet/purple = spirit. The rainbow flag represents the diversity of the LGBTQIA+ community. …

By Sarah Richardson, Keeper of Art, Laing Art Gallery

Installation view of Art Deco by the Sea, main gallery. All rights reserved to artists. Photo credit: Colin Davison

In the Laing’s Marble Hall, the visitor is greeted by a hoopla stall and funfair rides, a taster for the major new exhibition of Art Deco by the Sea (17 October 2020–27 February 2021). Art Deco, a style of escapism and fun, was ideally suited to the seaside. The 1920s and ’30s were boom years for the seaside, and the influence of Art Deco style was felt everywhere, from housing, cinemas and amusements to fashion and seaside decorative industries. This major exhibition has come to the Laing from The Sainsbury Centre

By Victoria Page, Communications Officer, Discovery Museum and Tyne & Wear Archives

Courtly love, maternal love, Goddess love, doomed love — and a bit of cheekiness — characterise the collections of museums and galleries on Tyneside when it comes to affairs of the heart.

From Egyptian statues of Venus to delicate Victorian Valentines, love stories span continents and generations.

Great North Museum — heart shaped ruby

This synthetic heart shaped ruby is on display in Newcastle University’s Great North Museum: Hancock. Rubies are the red variety of the mineral corundum, their colour resulting from the presence of chromium. These gems have historically been associated with love, passion…

By Andrew Parkin, Keeper of Archaeology, Great North Museum: Hancock

This post expands on the earlier article Decolonising the Museum, which we’d recommend reading first.

The Great North Museum: Hancock in Newcastle city centre.

To understand decolonisation we need to understand what colonisation is. Colonisation is when a country establishes control over another country or territory and its people, and exploits their resources.

Decolonisation is the opposite of this. It is a term that is used to describe a process by which countries, such as Britain, have sought to undo colonialism by giving up their control over parts of the world they had formerly ruled.

More recently the term…

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

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