We are pleased to support and promote the forthcoming exhibition at


The Hancocks: Scientists in the Studio

A new exhibition ‘The Hancocks: Scientists in the Studio’ will be the first display of its kind to explain the name above the Great North Museum: Hancock door by introducing the people of the North East to John, Albany and Mary Jane Hancock.

A group of British and international masters students from Newcastle University’s Museum Studies programme have worked with the Great North Museum: Hancock and the Natural History Society of Northumbria on this project that will be launched in the Living Planet Gallery of The Great North Museum: Hancock on the 23rd April and will run for four weeks.

Visitors will discover the stories of the ‘father of taxidermy’, John Hancock; one of the founders of the Natural History Society of Northumbria, Albany Hancock; and their sister, the botanist and artist, Mary Jane Hancock. The students hope visitors follow the Hancocks’ example and explore the beauty of the natural world and appreciate that the marriage of art and science is a vital and exciting concept today.

The exhibition will include rare pieces of taxidermy by John Hancock – including the extinct Huia Bird from New Zealand – in addition to specimens and drawings by Albany Hancock and beautiful watercolours by Mary Jane.

The students are also developing social media platforms to support the physical exhibition and permit wider access to the Hancocks’ history. A Tumblr page will offer visitors access to unseen material, such as Albany Hancock’s artworks and correspondence with Charles Darwin. Visitors will also have the opportunity to write comments and upload their own content. Twitter accounts are also being developed for ‘John Hancock’ and ‘Albany Hancock’ so the public can interact directly with the characters they encounter at the exhibition in a fun and easy way.

This project forms part of a series of collaborative hands-on heritage projects developed by the Museum Studies students of the International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies, with the support of Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums and other cultural organisations in the North East. They provided budding museum professionals with the opportunity to develop their skills and expertise and improve their chances of obtaining jobs in the museum, gallery and heritage sector.

Quotes from the Team

Ingrid Francis, student team leader: “This has been a great opportunity to project manage an exhibition and my fellow students have such a range of expertise and enthusiasm for the topic. I can’t wait until the final display is in the Great North Museum: Hancock!”

Dan Gordon, Keeper of Natural Sciences for Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums: “Understanding the Hancocks is essential to understanding the museum and its collections. It has been fascinating to see how the students have re-interpreted the story of the Hancock family and their work, particularly through the use of digital media.”

Kay Addison, student research: “Growing up in the North East and spending a lot of my childhood in the Great North Museum: Hancock, I never thought about what was behind the name ‘Hancock’. It has been an interesting revelation to discover the history of the family and how much of an impact they had on the area and their fields of work. I am excited to share the story with other people”.

Jack Gelsthorpe, student digital media: “The digital media truly engages with the concept of introducing the Hancock’s whilst illustrating the intricate relationship that exists between art and science.

It is complementary to the physical exhibition yet can also stand alone, as a separate entity, and it encourages user participation and the generation of user content”.

Christine Reinhardt, student curator: “We really strived to choose objects for the case that would be interesting to visitors, as well as teach them about Victorian practices and the Hancock family. We also wanted to display the items in a creative way in order to make the exhibition more memorable and hopefully increase visitor enjoyment”.


Exhibition Title: The Hancocks: Scientists in the Studio

Launch Event Date: 23rd April

Exhibition Dates: 23rd April – 21st May

Location: Living Planet Gallery, Ground Floor, Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle upon Tyne.

The exhibition is being produced in association with the Great North Museum Hancock and the Natural History Society of Northumbria who have generously provided content and support.

The launch party for the exhibition is kindly sponsored by Ernest, Boyd Street, Newcastle upon Tyne.

For more information and available media contact:

Heather Ainsworth at and 07827297697


Ingrid Francis at and 07973743189

The BHTS welcomes exhibitions such as this, we encourage visitors to this site to go along and see this exhibition for yourself, it looks to be of great interest to those with a genuine interest in historical taxidermy.

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