South Tyneside museums celebrate a successful month

Little visitors to the Spineless: Rainforest Creepy Crawlies exhibition dress us as their favourite creepy crawly. Pic: Colin Davison (www.rosellastudios.com).
Little visitors to the Spineless: Rainforest Creepy Crawlies exhibition dress us as their favourite creepy crawly. Pic: Colin Davison (www.rosellastudios.com).

Two South Tyneside museums had a hugely successful February.

Arbeia Roman Fort in South Shields was named Attraction of the Year at the Shields Gazette and Sunderland Echo WOW247 Awards.

Regarded as one of the finest Roman reconstructions in Britain, Arbeia Roman Fort’s award win came as South Shields Museum celebrated its 140th anniversary and saw its February half-term visitor figures almost double compared to the previous year.

Visitor numbers at the museum increased by 41% during the recent school holidays, thanks in part to its latest exhibition, Spineless: Rainforest Creepy Crawlies.

The museum also marked its anniversary on Saturday, February 27, by inviting the Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Richard Porthouse, to unveil a commemorative plaque on the lion statue outside the museum.

Iain Watson, director of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, said: “We’re delighted Arbeia Roman Fort has been named Attraction of the Year.

“It’s topped off a phenomenal half-term for our venues that has seen visitor numbers increase not just in South Tyneside, but across Tyne and Wear.

“These fantastic figures show just how much local people and visitors to the region enjoy and value museums.

“I’m also very proud of what we have achieved with our new Future Makers programme.

“It has been wonderful to see people inspired by our collections inventing and designing new imaginative creations.”

Future Makers is a partnership between Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and Manchester-based digital art organisation FutureEverything.

The hugely-popular series of workshops and events at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums venues has enabled children – and adults – to use new technologies for design and making.

The final event in the programme is TimeCraft at Arbeia Roman Fort, South Shields, on Saturday, April 23, where children will recreate Roman ruins in Minecraft and imagine what it was like to live in a fort like Arbeia.

This event is already sold out.

Upcoming Future Makers events will be promoted on the website www.twmuseums.org.uk