Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens

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Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens

Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens is a municipal museum in Sunderland, England. It is part of the Tyne and Wear Museums group, and is sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It contains the only known British example of a gliding reptile, the oldest known vertebrate capable of gliding flight. The exhibit was discovered in Eppleton quarry.

It was established in 1846, in the Athenaeum Building on Fawcett Street, the first municipally funded museum in the country outside of London. In 1879, the Museum moved to a new larger building next to Mowbray Park including a library and winter garden based on the model of the Crystal Palace. President Ulysses Grant was in attendance at the laying of the foundation stone by Alderman Samuel Storey in 1877. The building was opened in 1879. The Winter Garden was damaged by a parachute mine in 1941 and was demolished with a 1960s extension taking its place, but in 2001 a lottery funded refurbishment of the Museum created a new Winter Garden extension and improved facilities. In 2003, the Museum was recognised as the most attended outside London. The Museum contains a large collection of the locally made Sunderland Lustreware pottery. Other highlights of the Museum are a stuffed Lion, the remains of a Walrus brought back from Siberia in the 1880s and the first Nissan car to be made in Sunderland. Also featured are the skeletal remains of a male human being.

The library moved in 1995 to the new City Library and Arts Centre on Fawcett Street (occupying part of the former Binns Department Store). The relocation left more space for museum exhibitions. The new City Library Arts Centre also houses the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, renowned as one of the leading forums for new artists in the North of England.

L.S. Lowry described his discovery of Sunderland in 1960, after which it became his second home: ‘One day I was travelling south from Tyneside and I realised this was what I had always been looking for.’ Sunderland Museum, with six works and 30 on long-term loan, have a collection surpassed only by Salford and Manchester.

Coordinates: 54°54′15″N 1°22′48″W / 54.90417°N 1.38°W / 54.90417; -1.38

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