Planning Your Group / School Visit

Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens welcomes a large number of group visits each year from nurseries, schools, FE and HE, community and family learning groups. We also manage group visits to Mowbray Park and Washington F-Pit Museum.

To help teachers and group leaders to plan visits please read the information below:

Venue Information

Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens

Burdon Road, Sunderland, SR1 1PP

Opening Hours: 10am – 4pm (Mondays – Saturdays), 12pm – 4pm (Sundays).

Tel: 0191 561 2323

Email: [email protected]

@sunderlandmuseum #sundmuseum


Washington ‘F’ Pit Museum

Albany Way, Washington, NE37 1BN

Opening hours: Seasonal opening from April – October.

Tel: or 0191 561 2323 or 0191 416 7640 (for the day of your visit).

Washington F Pit hazard identification trail Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens hazard identification trail Mowbray Park hazard identification trail

  • Collections

    Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens combines a local history museum, art gallery library and temperate garden under glass. The collections tell the story of Sunderland and the northeast but also shine a light on the wider world.

    The social history collections reveal the history of shipbuilding, coalmining, glass-making and pottery industries in Sunderland and how people have lived and worked in the city over time. Explore pre-history and the Anglo-Saxons in the Secrets of the Past Gallery and enjoy a hands-on look at local history curiosities in the Time Machine Gallery.

    The Worlds Alive Gallery features collections of local and world wildlife, from red squirrels and otters to leopards and alligators. The exotic plants in the Winter Gardens include those from rainforests and deserts, while Mowbray Park is a haven for local wildlife including swans, ducks and moorhens. The park also contains a fascinating range of public art and sculpture and a children’s play area with an Alice in Wonderland theme.

    The Art Gallery includes paintings and sketches by artist L.S. Lowry and a Victorian collector’s gallery, full of a fascinating variety of paintings. The museum also hosts changing exhibitions from the museum’s own collections or national partners including the National Portrait Gallery. Details or current and forthcoming exhibitions can be found here.

    Facilities on site include Holmeside Coffee (contact 0191 564 1777), packed lunch spaces and a museum shop. For more information about the museum displays and resources please visit the What’s On section of the website.

    The former engine house at Washington ‘F’ Pit Museum contains a rare example of a working horizontal steam winding engine in the original working building. This small venue is also home to the Washington Miner’s War Memorial and paintings by local artists.

  • Group visits

    Options for group visits to Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens and Mowbray Park include:

    Self-Led/Teacher-Led Visits (free)

    On a self-led/teacher-led visit you manage your own session as you wish. Let us know if you require time in a particular gallery or space so we can limit numbers for your comfort. Free learning resources to support self-led visits are available to download from our website. Please bring your own pencils and clipboards with you. Packed lunch spaces are available but must be pre-booked.

    Museum-Led Workshops (charges apply, all resources provided)             

    In our museum-led workshops learning staff or professional freelancers lead hands-on activities linked to the collections including object handling, demonstrations, museum trails and art and craft activities. We recommend planning in some extra time to explore the rest of the Museum during your visit.

    Group visits to Washington F Pit Museum must be pre-booked. Charges apply for museum-led workshops. Please contact the Public Engagement & Learning Team for more information.

  • Booking your visit

    All group visits should be booked in advance. Contact Jennie or Marie in the Public Engagement & Learning Team to book on 0191 5612323 or e-mail [email protected]. Alternatively, please fill the Learning Enquiry Form and we will get back to you as soon as possible. When booking museum-led workshops please give us at least 2 weeks’ notice of your visit. All groups must sign in at museum reception on arrival.

    Please provide us with the following information when booking:

    • The date you wish to visit
    • The time of arrival and length of visit
    • The estimated number in your group
    • The year group
    • The school telephone number, address and postcode
    • The name of the teacher or group leader in charge of the group
    • An e-mail address for correspondence
    • If you would like to book a packed lunch space
    • Whether your group includes wheelchair users or individuals with learning or physical disabilities or additional learning needs (we can adapt sessions to meet learner’s needs)
    • What you would like to do during your visit

    All bookings will be confirmed by e-mail. Please check your booking details and the terms and conditions carefully. For museum-led workshops a confirmation form must be completed and returned within 5 working days to secure the booking.

    Adult to Children Ratios

    We recommend the following ratio of adults to children:

    • 1:4 for children of 7 years and under
    • 1:7 for children of 8 years and above

    In line with current DfE guidelines, we reserve the right to refuse entry when the level of adult supervision falls short of a ratio of 1:15. Please bring as many adult helpers as possible and share your preparation with them so they are able to better support your pupils. This is particularly important for group activities where adult helpers are managing small groups of children without the direct supervision of the teacher or group leader. Children should remain with an adult at all times during the visit.

  • On the day of your visit

    Opening Hours

    Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens opening hours are 10am – 4pm (Monday – Saturday), 12pm – 4pm (Sundays). Please note the ground floor of the Museum and the City Library open at 9.30am.


    Coaches and minibuses should drop off and pick up groups from the extended bus stop on Burdon Road, beside the Museum entrance. Minibuses can park in the pay and display car-park at Tatham Street, a 5 minute walk from the Museum entrance. The closest coach parking is at the Stadium of Light.

    Groups arriving by metro should use Sunderland metro station which is a 5 minute walk from the Museum entrance. The closest bus stops are on Fawcett Street and John Street with Park Lane Interchange a ten minute walk away.


    The main entrance is at ground level and there are lifts to all floors. The Winter Gardens treetop walkway level is accessed by a lift inside the Winter Gardens. Please inform us in advance if your group includes wheelchair users or people with additional access needs. On the treetop walkway in the Winter Gardens, the number of wheelchair users is restricted to six at any one time to allow safe evacuation in the case of fire or emergency.

    For further access information please visit the main museum website.


    The entrance doors are clearly marked ‘Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens’ from Burdon Road. When you enter the museum shop please sign in on the group visits sheet at the reception desk.

    The Visitor Services staff at the shop/reception desk will advise you on where to store coats and packed lunches where a lunch space has been pre-booked. If you have booked a Museum-led workshop a member of the Public Engagement & Learning Team will meet you at the shop/reception desk. Please ensure that you allow enough time to visit toilets so that we can begin your workshop on time. Be aware that if you arrive late your workshops may have to be cut short.


    The main toilet block is on the ground floor opposite City Library and has 4 male and 4 female toilets in each block.There are additional accessible unisex toilets on each floor of the museum.


    Secure storage space for bags and coats is limited so please book storage in advance.

    Lunch Spaces

    The Pottery Gallery and Textile Traditions Galleries on the ground floor can be booked for packed lunches. The Pottery Gallery can accommodate 80 people (2 classes) for lunch, with one class sitting at tables and the other seated on plastic sheets on the carpet. The Textile Traditions Gallery can accommodate 40 people (1 class) for lunch, seated on plastic sheets on the carpet. Please use the bin bags and cleaning equipment provided and carefully fold up plastic sheets after use to avoid dropping any leftovers on the carpet.


    Please organise your group into smaller groups of 6 to visit the museum shop. The shop has a wide variety of pocket money priced items for sale.

    Light Levels

    Please note in some areas of the museum light levels in displays may be reduced to protect the objects on display. These include the Textiles Gallery.

    Photography and Film

    Photography and filming is allowed in all areas of the Museum except the L.S. Lowry area of the Art Gallery and the Special Exhibitions Gallery. Please avoid using flash to protect the museum collections. Groups wishing to undertake professional photography and film using tripods must seek special permission in advance and complete a form.


    Every attempt is made to keep the gardens and galleries open but on occasion, areas may be closed for cleaning, maintenance, events or exhibition installation. If you wish to visit a specific gallery or space during your visit please check it is open by contacting the Museum in advance.

  • Supervision of groups

    We do not provide supervision for self-led group visits. Remember that you are responsible for your group’s care and discipline throughout the visit. Please be considerate of other groups and museum users and ensure children are appropriately supervised at all times.

    We welcome groups using their own equipment in the galleries, e.g. workbooks, clipboards and pencils. We ask groups not to use felt-tip pens or paints in the galleries that could stain walls or carpets. Please remind your group not to touch artworks behind protective wires, e.g. paintings or textiles.

    Groups using our downloadable resources should bring their own copies with them with pencils and clipboards as required. Please bring the minimum of personal belongings e.g. coats, bags etc with you in the galleries and supervise your belongings at all times. Always take care not to block any circulation routes or fire exits.

  • Emergency procedures

    Medical Emergency

    If there is a medical emergency please contact the Visitor Services Staff at the shop in the entrance area.

    Emergency Alarm

    In an emergency you will hear a loud siren, see red flashing lights on ceilings and a spoken message to evacuate the building. Please follow these instructions.

    • Lead your group quickly and quietly to the nearest exit, our Visitor Services staff (in uniform) or Public Engagement & Learning staff will assist you.
    • Do not stop to collect coats or bags
    • Do not use lifts
    • There are safe refuge areas on the upper floors for wheelchair users to wait safely while they await evacuation.
    • Lead your group to the War Memorial in Mowbray Park to await the fire marshal check
    • Do not re-enter the building for any reason
    • Staff will advise you when it is safe to return
  • Hazard identification trails and other legal information

    Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens recognises its responsibility to ensuring the health and safety and well-being of groups visiting its venues. We have:

    • Codes of practice for procedures including accidents, incidents, first aid and emergencies.
    • Public liability insurance
    • A policy for the safeguarding of children, young people and vulnerable adults.

    Under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 we are continually striving to make our museums safe places to visit. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (amended) imposes an obligation on us to make suitable and sufficient assessments of the risks to health and safety in Sunderland Museums’ workplaces and visitor areas.

    We have prepared the following hazard identification trails for Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, Mowbray Park and Washington ‘F’ Pit Museum. You can use the information to write your risk assessment.

    Please download the hazard identification trails for groups visiting Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens and Mowbray Park below.

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