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Established in 1846, the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens was the first municipally funded museum in the Country outside of London.

Located on the edge of Mowbray Park, with a collection dating back to 1846, visitors can explore Sunderland’s fascinating history across four floors – including art exhibitions and tropical winter gardens.
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The Winter Gardens is a 21st-century addition to the museum, and are home to Koi Carp, over 2000 plants, and a tree-top walkway.

One of the highlights of the building is the William Pye water sculpture, a towering 10-metre high steel column with rippling patterns of water flowing down the surface.

Here are some of the exhibitions currently on display at the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens:

The museum heavily focuses on the coal mining history around the North East, with different rooms within the area that take you back in time. Information on the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens website reads: “This display is a lasting tribute to nearly 200 years of mining in the East Durham coalfield. Focusing on the unique communities which developed there, the display re-creates the day-to-day lives of miners and their families.

Find out about the dangers and hardships of mining in the 1800s in the underground reconstruction. See a collection of disaster glass, which was sold locally to raise money for the families who were left devastated by accidents at the pit and meet three young lads going through their gruelling labours in the video presentation – a trapper opening the ventilation doors in the mine and two putters, pushing the coal tubs.”

On the second floor, visitors will find a permanent exhibition display featuring many objects made during the last 300 years when the glassmaking industry was at its peak. See many examples of 18th and early 19th century glass including a collection of rummers, friggers, cut and engraved glass and pressed glass.

On the first floor, visitors can also find permanent exhibitions like The Lost worlds display, that looks at the local geology of the Sunderland area, concentrating on the Carboniferous and Permian periods. The sounds of lapping waves, howling winds and bubbling swamps add to the atmosphere of a gallery where millions of years of history have been squeezed into one fascinating space.

Finally, on the third floor, visitors can see several of the Museum’s collections of detailed model ships that were built on the Wear when it was “The largest shipbuilding town in the world.” The models were made at the shipyards.

The Sunderland Museum and Winter Garden’s are free entry, with an accessible lift taking you to all three floors.