Dedicated to the legacy of Sunderland’s Patron Saint, Benedict Biscop, the Sunderland Room traces the story of Wearside’s glassmaking tradition, which started in the 7th century when Benedict Biscop brought craftsmen from France to teach the techniques of making coloured glass. The exhibition presents a range of objects, ephemera and films from personal and historical public collections relating to glassmaking and the history of Sunderland. National Glass Centre at the University of Sunderland continues the story of glassmaking in Sunderland today.
National Glass Centre was officially opened by HRH Prince Charles in October 1998. It won the first major Lottery award in the North East and it was the first Lottery-funded building to be constructed. Gollifer Langston Architects won a competition to design the building, which is situated on the banks of the River Wear on the former site of J L Thompson and Sons shipyard. The contemporary glass and steel exterior together with the canopies, ventilation towers and chimneys reflect the area’s industrial past.
The National Glass Centre promotes the art, history and science of glass in a way that is inspired by the heritage of its location, through a programme of exhibitions, new commissions and education. It is also home to small-scale glass producers, NGC’s glass studio team and the University of Sunderland’s Glass and Ceramics department, where up to one hundred students study. The NGC studio produces glassware for business and private commissions.