A few of our favourite things

Today, we are joining the BBC and colleagues across the country for #MuseumPassion, a celebration of museums, their role in society and what the future holds. We wanted to share some of the things that make us, as staff, passionate about museums. So here are a few of our favourite things about Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens. 


From Marie Harrison, Public Engagement and Learning Officer at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens

Caffieri, Hector; Little Truant; Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/little-truant-35329

As a child I visited the Museum a lot, and this painting has been there as long as I can remember. One day, we were reading the labels and my Mam said ‘the Little Truant, that’s your Nan. She never liked going to school’. For a ridiculously long time I was convinced that this was actually a portrait of my Nan, even though it was painted long before she was born.

When the Learning Team had a puppet made of the girl in the painting, we called it Sarah after my Nan.

From Helen Green, Head of Performance for Sunderland Culture

hero, with a small case by Ray Hopkins being performed in the Pottery Gallery (Image: David Allan)

I get very excited about presenting theatre and dance in unusual spaces. My hope is that in this way we can reach more people who wouldn’t normally attend the theatre and maybe entice them to something else we put on in the future. Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens’ wealth of unusual spaces prompted me to invite some of the city’s emerging writers to create a short play inspired by one of the galleries or by an artefact or even a historical character that the Museum had shone a light on. The result, Museum Pieces, was 5 short plays tackling everything from sibling rivalry in the Pottery Gallery to fossil hunters in the Lost World section, and even a brief encounter by the deep sea diver! The audience moved with the actors throughout the Museum as they performed the separate pieces and each writer was invited to talk to the audience about what had inspired them from the Museum collection and its galleries. It was a wonderful event – I hope I can do more!

From Posy Jowett, Public Engagement and Learning Officer for Sunderland Culture

Art Champions, Anth, Jo, Bukky, Martin, Maanashi and Debs, at the opening of Received Wisdom and the Art Lounge

I think especially in the context of Covid, this picture reminds me of being able to be in the same space to celebrate our journey with the Art Champions. All that support and laughter and the total coming together of this group of people – all because of art!! Dreamy.


(To find out more about the Art Champions, watch our film, Welcome to the Collection. There is also still time to visit the Received Wisdom exhibition)

From Laura Brewis, Producer, Artist Development and Creative Industries for Sunderland Culture

Wallace meets one of his fans

Every Friday my dad takes my little girl to Sunderland Museum. It’s their thing. They’ve been doing it for at least a year and a half. Then, one weekend, we ended up back at the Museum. And she took me on this astonishing trip around the Museum, showing me her fave bits. She showed me Wallace, the koi carp, her fave fossil, the light up mines display, the little house, the big rope on the top floor that I didn’t know existed. And to the art galleries. She loved the yellow walls, especially. And it struck me how this was her place- she loved it & felt totally welcome & comfortable, & spending time here was so important to her and my dad’s relationship. And she’d always remember it. And the thing is that I remember going there with MY gran, and it was so special to me too. It shows how much more than collections or exhibitions these places are, and how deeply museums are built into families and communities lives. I love Sunderland Museum.

We hope you enjoyed our favourite things. We would love to hear from you about your favourites – it could be an object, an event, a space or a memory. Share on Twitter (@SundMuseum) or on Facebook (@sunderlandmuseum) tagged with #MuseumPassion.


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