Looking back at some Great Exhibition of the North highlights

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Life in Geordieland blogger, Rachel Kershaw shares her personal highlights from Great Exhibition of the North.

With hundreds of different events on offer over 80-days, it would be very difficult to find two people who have had exactly the same experience of Great Exhibition of the North.

That has been part of its appeal; the possibility to personalise the programme to suit your interests and enjoy the aspects that sparked your imagination. So, what stood out for me, might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but others may have discovered events that I’d overlooked. It’s been wonderful to hear about other people’s personal highlights and enjoyable experiences too so I’ve added some of your comments praising Great Exhibition of the North alongside each of mine!

These have been some of my highlights this summer.

Get North Opening Event

Great Exhibition of the North launched in spectacular style on NewcastleGateshead Quayside on the evening of Friday the 22 June. I was lucky enough to be there and it was wonderful to see Northern England celebrated in such a creative and exciting way. The atmosphere was electric and the drone displays were jaw-dropping.

What you have said:

Incredible drone display by Sky Magic, so impressed by the effect and the tech. Made an already great evening incredible!

The magic show in the sky took everyone’s breath away – fabulous!

Amazing night – drones and fireworks outstanding


The opening night was amazing, my little boys face was magical when he saw the water fountain, the drones and fireworks. Brilliant night, well done.


Steve Maye’s Lego Timeline of Northern Innovation

Imagine having the job title ‘Lego Artist’! Steve Mayes is the fortunate fella who gets to play with this popular toy and call it his work. His contribution to Great Exhibition of the North brought a huge smile to mine and many other faces as we saw historic moments and famous objects brought to life by his clever construction of the little colourful bricks. The Lego Timeline of Northern Innovation also gave us an opportunity to explore The Mining Institute in the centre of Newcastle, the beautiful and historic building which hosted the exhibit.

What you have said:

Loved the Lego timeline of northern innovation by Brick This Mining Institute as part of Get North 2018 Excellent job of replicating an Oasis album cover in Lego Twitter

I’ve never set foot in Newcastle’s splendid Mining Institute before today, but Get North 2018 has opened it up to the public ahead of a major restoration. Naturally, it was the Lego Greggs (created by a young visitor) that caught my attention Twitter 

Aeons: A Sound Journey for Newcastle

I have walked along the banks of the River Tyne hundreds of times before but my journey was transformed when I picked up a special headset from Gateshead Millennium Bridge and listened to a specially curated soundtrack along the way. The music gave me goosebumps and I found the experience surprisingly moving.

What you have said:

The Opera North and Get North 2018 Newcastle audio walk is one of the best arts experiences I can remember. #Aeons is a metronomic balance of electrifying, meditative music and words. It took my breath away and inspired me to think differently. To live like the river. Thank you.

Well, there is SO much praise for Aeon’s that Opera North have rounded it all up for you!

Which Way North at Great North Museum

A visit to the Great North Museum (aka The Hancock Museum for those who live locally) is always a pleasure but thanks to Great Exhibition of the North it welcomed some incredible new exhibits this summer. I’ve been several times over the last few months and discovered something different from Northern England with each visit…From the last piano ever played by John Lennon to Damien Hirst’s shark in formaldehyde, ‘Heaven’. I even spotted my favourite childhood TV character Pob!

What you have said:

This is a phenomenal exhibition!

Really enjoyed the exhibits in the Hancock this summer. Only discovered it because of the Great North Exhibition having lived here for some time.

Both Facebook

Multiverse Arcade

I experienced this installation on day one of Great Exhibition and as a video message from the year 2066 played on to the palm of my hands it really got me thinking about our impact on the planet. It was so creative and thought-provoking, I really loved it!

What you have said:

Need to hear something inspiring? Try Multiverse Arcade. I do hope these children really are the future with thoughts like these, loved being able to hear my boys voices amongst them. #multiversearcade

It’s Rocket Science

Confession time, I haven’t actually seen Rocket up close since it returned to its birthplace for Great Exhibition of the North, but I’m determined not to miss my chance. I’ve booked a free ticket to the special exhibition at Discovery Museum before it ends on 9 September and judging by other people’s comments, I’m sure it will be one of my highlights. There’s still time for you to do the same and learn more about this revolutionary machine.

What you have said (and a few more lovely quotes!):

Great exhibition and apart from seeing the Rocket… virtual journey was amazing

Been [to Discovery Museum] today with my 6 year old grandson. He loved seeing Rocket or Stephen as he’s known in Thomasland. Accompanying exhibition is excellent too. Well worth the visit.

Both Facebook

Thank you for facilitating so many fab things over the summer holidays which have been enjoyed by the whole family & also for reminding us what an amazing city we live in!
Miriam on Facebook

I haven’t time to fit any more in but we feel we’ve done the exhibitions justice and ticked off: Discovery, Mining Inst, Lit & Phil, Horse to Hyperloop, Great North Museum, Baltic, Side, bridges at Sage. We started with Aeons. All brilliant! Could have lasted longer.

I think the thing I’ll remember the most about summer 2018 in Newcastle and Gateshead is how my eyes were opened to the vast and varied contributions that Northerner’s have made and continue to make to the worlds of Art, Design and Innovation. Great Exhibition of the North has also made me feel prouder than ever to call myself a Northerner.

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