The Laing Art Gallery in the centre of Newcastle is an enchanting place. The city’s first and oldest gallery, it’s housed in a charming Grade II-listed building. And, although it may be small in size, its two floors burst with exhibitions, both permanent and rotating - and it won’t cost you a penny to enter, either. Stop for a while outside to admire the beautiful baroque-style architecture, then head inside to see all the masterpieces. While there is some contemporary art, the focus at the Laing is on 18th and 19th century, and you’ll seem some splendid paintings of old Newcastle, as well as art and crafts by local artists. It’s a great place to take your young budding artists too, with a dedicated play area for the under 5s (handily located right by the cafe) and plenty of places for older kids to doodle.
A visit to the Laing can keep you entertained for hours, but why not check into one of our Newcastle hotels, to see what other cultural attractions the city has to offer? Luckily there’s a Premier Inn near the Laing Art Gallery ( right next door, in fact!) that will turn your city break from blank canvas into a work of art.
Head to the Gallery at 11am on Saturday morning to enjoy a free talk by the Friends of the Laing Art Gallery. They’re a great way of finding out more about some of the paintings, and you can share your experience with fellow art lovers. If your visit coincides with the first Saturday of the month, there are popular art classes for 10 to 15 year olds, while little artists can get messy with painting classes held every Tuesday in term time.
For adults, there are art-making activities - the fused glass workshop being one of the most popular. These cost around £45 per session, but all materials are provided. When it comes to paintings, one of the most interesting exhibitions can be found on the ground floor. The Northern Spirit gallery has outstanding local artwork and objects from artists like Thomas Bewick, Ralph Hedley and John Martin, plus some stunning Newcastle silver, glass and ceramics.
When the gallery first opened in 1904, it proved so popular that police were called in to control the crowds. Those days may be gone, but you will still find queues to get into some of the temporary exhibitions at busier times.
The gallery can be found at New Bridge Street, Newcastle NE1 8AG and its phone number is 0191 278 1611. Laing is closed on Mondays, but open Tuesday to Friday between 10am and 5pm and Sunday 2pm to 5pm. Entrance is free to the gallery, shop and cafe, although you do have to pay for temporary exhibitions. The gallery closes from 24 to 26 December and on 1 January.
You’ll find the café, learning space and under fives’ area on the ground floor. The Laing Shop is on both the ground and lower-ground floors, with the upper shop selling a range of craft, jewellery and ceramics by local artists. The lower shop is a more typical art gallery gift shop, selling postcards and prints from the collection, children’s toys and a wide range of art-related books.
Laing Art Gallery has an under fives’ area which encourages young children to learn about art through play. There are foam bricks to build with, games and puzzles, as well as a dressing up box. In the school holidays the Gallery puts on themed activities, such as zombie special-effect face painting at Halloween and various Christmas crafts during the festive season.
To the side of the Gallery you’ll find two disabled bays for blue-badge holders. Once inside, the gallery, cafe and shop are all fully accessible, with disabled toilets on the ground and first floors. There are plenty of seating areas, and a wheelchair is available free of charge (there’s only one, though). Pre-visit information in braille is available for blind and partially sighted visitors, too.
The Gallery has its own cafe that’s an excellent place to refresh and refuel after you’ve had a browse. But if you fancied something more than a quick pit stop, the Laing’s city centre location means you’re never very far from some of the best of Newcastle’s culinary scene.
Cafe Laing is a spacious cafe with plenty of its own art to admire - only this time you can do it with a hot drink and a cake in hand! There’s a beautiful marble statue of the Fallen Angel by Waldo Thomas Story along with some pretty Burne Jones stained glass to gaze at while you tuck in. Choose from homemade breakfast stotties, baked potatoes or head there between 2pm and 4pm for afternoon tea. If you fancy something more substantial at lunchtime, there’s hot food like meatballs and casseroles, pulled pork rolls or freshly-made quiche and salad to tempt you.
For a seriously tasty lunch, the gourmet roasted meat sandwich shop Kracklin takes some beating. We dare you not to salivate as delectable meats like traditional salt beef are carved in front of you and made into rolls. The signature sandwich is the porchetta - pork belly wrapped around a loin, rolled with herbs and spices and slow-roasted until the skin is caramelized and crunchy. It’s served with locally-baked ciabatta and homemade salsa verde. And while the meat is very much the star of the show, don’t miss the quirky, upmarket take on cheesy chips.
Tapas Revolution may be in the intu Eldon Square shopping centre, but once inside you’ll feel like you’re in a bar in Madrid. Its authentic menu (made with all-Spanish ingredients) includes delicate calamares fritos in garlic sauce, hearty tortilla de patatas and melt-in-the-mouth croquetas de jamon. If you’re not that hungry, it’s fine to order one or two dishes and a drink - the Spanish craft beers are excellent. All the dishes are brought to your table as they’re cooked, which keeps the surprises coming (and disguises how much you’re eating!).
With its central location, a trip to the Laing means you’re only a stone’s throw away from many of Newcastle’s top attractions. Perfect if you wanted to turn your gallery visit into a big day out. Just opposite the Gallery there’s the Newcastle Library, a six-storey building with a ‘glass box’ feature that looks stunning all lit up from the outside. Head in and you’ll find a marble-floored atrium, a huge performance space, cafe and exhibition area. A great place to come for free city maps and local information, it also houses the Newcastle Collection, a unique range of books and artifacts that will give you a real insight into the city’s heritage.
The Great North Museum: Hancock is also nearby and it’s incredibly popular. Well, who wouldn’t want to see a lifesize model of a real T-rex? It may not be a real one, but there’s plenty of items that are authentic, like mummies from Ancient Egypt. Great if you love natural science, make sure you check out the Living Planet display which has live animal tanks.
If shopping’s more your bag, Grainger Market is just round the corner. This Victorian covered arcade is home to a pleasant mix of independents and big brands - and the world's smallest M&S store.
You’ll find the Laing Art Gallery in the centre of town, a short walking distance from the busy Northumberland Street - a major shopping district. If you’re staying at the Premier Inn on New Bridge Street, the Gallery is just next door.
The Laing Art Gallery is just off the A167 (M) on New Bridge Street. You can park on-street behind the Gallery and at the nearby NCP car park underneath the Premier Inn.
Take a bus to either Haymarket or Pilgrim Street. Haymarket is a ten-minute walk away, while getting off at Pilgrim Street means you’re just a three-minute walk away.
The nearest Metro Station is Monument, a five-minute walk away. The Gallery is a 15-minute walk from Central Station, through the city centre.
We have a huge range of fantastic hotels in the North East for the business and leisure traveller. If you're on business, check into our airport hotels. We also have a range of hotels ideally located for a weekend break away. Plus, there are hotels near Newcastle University and a collection of budget hotels for the price conscious Whichever part of Newcastle you’re planning to visit, you’ll find a selection of comfortable Premier Inn hotels nearby.