National Glass Centre in Sunderland

Discover how glass arrived in Britain, how it's made and how it's become something we all take for granted at the National Glass Centre. Based in a unique, contemporary glass and steel building, the National Glass Centre houses exhibition galleries, artists' studios and production facilities, a craft & design shop and an award winning café/restaurant. National Glass Centre is part of the University of Sunderland.

National Glass Centre

The initial concept in the 1990s for National Glass Centre was to celebrate the heritage of glass making in Sunderland and develop a glass industry for the 21st century.

In 1994 the Tyne and Wear Development Corporation held an open competition for the design of National Glass Centre and this was won by the architectural practice Gollifer Associates. National Glass Centre was the recipient of the first major arts lottery award in the North East and the first Arts Lottery Funded building. In October 1998 HRH Prince Charles officially opened the Centre.

In May 2010, the University of Sunderland took over the running of National Glass Centre and in 2011 appointed a new director, James Bustard, with an impressive portfolio of work to his name, to progress the venue into the future.

Facts and Figures

  • There is a total of 3,250 square metres of glass in National Glass Centre.
  • 460 people can be accommodated on the glass roof at any one time.
  • National Glass Centre’s heat exchange system uses heat from the glass making furnaces to warm the building.
  • The glass panels on the roof are 6cm thick.
  • Over 70 people are employed at National Glass Centre.
  • There are up to 40 glass makers working in the Centre at any one time.
  • Over 100 students study at National Glass Centre, with over 30 research students.

Sunderland has a rich heritage of glass making that dates back to 674AD. Benedict Biscop, founder of Wearmouth-Jarrow Priory, brought skilled craftsmen from Gaul to create the first stained glass window in England for St Peter’s Church, Monkwearmouth. Using compelling personal stories from local people and striking audio visual display, Stories of Glass in Sunderland is our interactive exhibition which charts the origins, growth and legacy of glass making in the City.

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