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The gallery houses an impressive permanent collection of British and European fine and decorative arts and a growing collection of contemporary art.
Among the highlights are paintings by Holman Hunt, Burne-Jones, Gauguin and Victor Pasmore, together with an extensive collection of works by John Martin, the Victorian visionary artist who was born and brought up in the area. The 20th-century artists include Laura Knight, Ben Nicholson, David Bomberg and Gillian Ayres. A large decorative art collection features Beilby enamelled glass, Sowerby glass, Newcastle silver, Maling ceramics and North East pottery as well as Japanese prints. There are regularly changing exhibitions of historic, modern and contemporary art.