Our Collections

Discovery Museum is home to one of the finest collections of scientific and technical material outside of London as well as housing significant collections on maritime history, social history and regimental history.

For more than two centuries the developments in science, technology and industry pioneered or established in Tyne and Wear had a powerful influence worldwide.

Examples of world firsts include Charles Parson's Turbinia, Joseph Swan's lightbulb and Stephenson's steam engines.

Turbinia takes pride of place in the museum, designed in 1894 by Tyneside engineer Charles Parsons, she was the world's first ship to be powered by steam turbines and until 1899, was the fastest ship in the world reaching speeds of up to 34.5 knots.

Discovery also displays a replica of Swan's first lightbulb, a number of models of Stephenson's steam engines, ship models from the famous Tyne shipyards of Swan Hunter and a prototype of BAE Systems Challenger 2 tank which is displayed outside the museum.

The Costume stores hold over 12,000 items, ranging from Coptic textiles of the 4th century AD to contemporary street fashion. With a particular focus on Tyneside, the large costume collection ranges from the late 1600s to 21c and is mostly women's fashion, accessories and shoes. The textile collection features samplers and lace, banners and household textiles. 

If you would like to make an enquiry about our collection please contact us on history@twmuseums.org.uk. You can also search on our online search facility.

Donations to the collection or bringing in items for identification ​

Please get in touch with us (via phone, email or letter) before bringing in your items to describe what you would like to offer, or what you need help with identifying. Send us a photograph if possible.

Email history@twmuseums.org.uk, address letters to History Dept, Discovery Museum or call (0191) 232 6789 and ask to leave a message with the History Dept. Please ensure you provide contact details.

We’ll reply letting you know if your offer is something we can accept, if we need more information, if we cannot accept your offer or to arrange a time for you to bring your item in.

There are a variety of reasons that we may not be able to take your donation. We have a Collections Development Policy that we must follow when making a decision.

Please note that unless there are compelling and legitimate reasons, hazardous objects and substances will not be accepted.