Discover how glass arrived in Britain, how it’s made and why Sunderland has such a rich glassmaking heritage here at National Glass Centre.
On your visit learn about the Anglo-Saxon abbot and now Saint Benedict Biscop who first brought glass-making to Sunderland, and Britain, all the way back in the 7th Century AD. Biscop and his team of glaziers produced stained glass for the impressive windows at Bishopwearmouth Monastery.
Fast forward over 1300 years later and explore how the craftsmen of Sunderland’s factories, such as Pyrex and Hartley Woods, went on to produce some of the finest glass in the world for century after century.
Today, our resident glass makers keep those skills alive. Trained in the art of turning molten glass into beautiful pieces of art, the Centre’s glass blowing team create all manner of things, from glass baubles at Christmas to hearts for Valentine’s Day. Watching this can be enjoyed from the comfort of a seat at one of our six daily glass demonstrations with commentary, or you can get even closer to the action and book a hands-on glassmaking experience.
In our exhibition spaces, you can marvel at some of the world’s finest contemporary glass and ceramic artists, as well as up and coming artists currently studying with the University of Sunderland.
2018 also saw the addition of the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art to the building, meaning you can now enjoy a regularly changing programme of both established and emerging contemporary artists work.
We are dedicated to creating opportunities for everyone to have a go and be involved in arts and culture. Our learning team create an extensive family crafts programme with lots to do for all ages, such as glass painting, glass sandcasting, glass fusing and ceramic crafts. Keep an eye out for things to do, especially around school holiday times via our What’s On.
You can also pick up your own souvenir or stunning example of glass art in our gift shop, kids love the marbles, before taking a well-earned rest in The Glass Yard cafe with its captivating views out onto the River Wear.