The role played by Tyneside during the industrial growth of the 19th and 20th centuries is well documented. What is less well known is that by 1911 one third of the population were migrants or children of migrants, particularly from Ireland and Scotland. Jobs in coal mining, shipbuilding and heavy engineering meant that the North East became a major centre of migration as people travelled from all over in search of a better way of life. The gallery explores the history of these people through personal, real-life stories.

But the story does not end here; in the decade leading up to 2001 the North East has seen the second biggest rate of change in migration (London seeing the first biggest rate of change). 41% more people who were born abroad have made the region their home than in the previous decade. This gallery will include the stories of these migrants too. Juxtaposing contemporary and historic stories will, it is hoped, lead to a new understanding that our cultural identity has always been open and changing.

Visitors to the gallery follow the stories of six real-life historic characters from the decision in their homeland to leave to their life in Tyneside. These stories are experienced through immersive films created by Centre Screen Productions that feature in an impressive 180° cinema. Archival and museum collections related to these people are displayed in the gallery.

Visitors will have the opportunity to trace for their family surname, take the British citizenship test and find out how to research their family tree.

Robert Winder has written that ‘we are all immigrants: it simply depends how far back you go. If we could understand, accept and celebrate that, we would have a stronger society and a brighter future.’

The opening of the gallery coincides with the commitment from Newcastle City Council to become a City of Sanctuary, part of a network of cities and towns which promote the inclusion and welfare of people who are fleeing violence and persecution in their own countries.

By including this part of our history within Discovery Museum we hope to send out a strong signal about what we value, to foster a sense of belonging and, by presenting an historical perspective on migration, to promote tolerance.

Destination Tyneside has been made possible thanks to generous support from the DCMS/Wolfson Fund, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Foyle Foundation, Fenwick Limited, Sir Siegmund Warburg’s Voluntary Settlement, the Trusthouse Charitable Foundation and Newcastle City Council.

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