23rd June - 8th September

The Imaginary Museum of the North

The Lit & Phil was established 225 years ago and the Society soon received interesting artefacts from all over the world.  In 1798 two unidentified animals – preserved in spirit – were sent. One was a wombat and the other a duck-billed platypus. Two Egyptian mummies were also donated.

The original Museum was housed from 1826 in what is now our Committee Room. The collection continued to expand, the Natural History Society was formed, and it took  over the collections. A bigger Museum, purpose built behind the Lit & Phil, was opened in 1834, and  was in turn expanded in 1884 into what we now know as The Great North Museum: Hancock.

In the Imaginary Museum you will see gems from our collection, treasures on loan from Berwick Museum and Art Gallery, objects and creatures made by young people from Newcastle Bridges School and miscellaneous objects donated to the museum. Additionally you will see objects that we imagine have been left behind by lecturers over the years.

We want to recreate the sense of excitement, wonder and fascination that must have been felt by people in the region when the original Newcastle Museum opened.

The stories we are telling in The Museum may be true, but some might be pure imagination. You decide!

You can follow a trail around the Library, to discover the objects, or take a tour. Guided tours are available every Saturday morning at 10.30am from 23rd June to 8th September. Every week a layer will be removed from a mysterious parcel that’s been sent to the Librarian. Tours are FREE but places are limited so please book.



What's On At The Lit And Phil

  • Sep Wednesday 19th 18:00
    Joseph Cowen and Tyneside Society, with Bill Lancaster FREE
  • Sep Friday 21st 13:00
    Lunchtime Jazz £5
  • Sep Thursday 27th 18:00
    Reappraising German Idealist Political Philosophy, with Dr James Clarke FREE
  • Sep Saturday 29th 11:30
    Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Robert Stephenson, An Engineering Legacy in Photographs FREE
  • Oct Monday 1st 13:10
    Lunchtime Recital FREE
  • Oct Wednesday 3rd 18:00
    Gail-Nina Anderson Lecture Series - The Tragic Heroine in Art (1 of 3) £4

What's on this month

Why not hire The Lit & Phil?

Seat 20 in the stunning Committee Room or plan an event in the Library (or something inbetween). The Lit & Phil is ideal for your meeting, training or party and is perfectly located next to the station.


Read More

As a member you can borrow most books published after 1850 (but not all at once). You can also access wi-fi in the Library and benefit from priority booking at some events. By joining the Lit & Phil, you are also supporting this wonderful institution, so thank you!

Online Catalogue

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 Check if we have that book you've been looking for. You don't need to be a member to search the catalogue; search by title, author, keyword or subject. Members can then reserve the book to collect later.