20 Facts

Discover 20 facts about BALTIC.

We’d love to hear some of your memories of BALTIC. Share your stories, images and videos including the hashtag #Baltic20 on social media.

Fact No.

Secret Floors

Did you know... We have 6 public facing floors, however 13 levels in total (Yes, we have secret floors – and even a few secret artworks). We have a Space Invader artwork left behind by the artist Invader. He has left these tile mosaics all over the world creating a worldwide ‘Space Invader Treasure Hunt’.

Fact No.

Education Statistics

Did you know... Since opening, an average of 872,590 children and their families have taken part in our family learning programme, and 32,229 have received food and creative packages. On average we have had 440,835 people visit our Library and Archive and 2,654,680 people visit BALTIC's Learning Lounge.

Fact No.


Did you know... BALTIC staff are all based on 2a, a hidden floor which is suspended over the Learning Lounge and BALTIC Library on Level 2. If you look carefully as you go up the scenic lifts you may see us – give us a wave. In the middle of Level 2 Learning Lounge, you can see a spiral staircase. This leads up to the main staff office where there are lots of people that are busy working, doing all sorts of jobs from looking after our building to deciding what artwork we show at BALTIC.

Fact No.


Did you know... Some interesting and unusual exhibition components include, toenails, a narwhal tusk, a man made out of fruit, animal heads, human bones, cars on fire and naked people. Can you remember any others? Discover more by visiting balticplus.uk

Fact No.

Scenic Lifts

Did you know... BALTIC has been designed so that visitors can see as much of the workings of the gallery as possible. BALTIC’s much loved glass scenic lifts travel the height of the building at a speed of two metres per second. We also work with a team that bravely abseil to clean our exterior windows, and ensure visitors have a clear view of the NewcastleGateshead landscape.

Fact No.

Wing Door

Did you know... BALTIC has a unique ‘Wing Door’ at the back of the building. The door slides across the windows to screen daylight from the gallery spaces when dark conditions are required for artwork such as film or projections. The Wing Door measures 21 metres high and weighs 11 tonnes. Have you ever spotted it moving?

Fact No.

Level 4 Gallery

Did you know... BALTIC’s fourth Floor Art Space is 8m high and 800sqm, large enough to hold 100 double decker buses.

Fact No.

Level 3 Gallery

Did you know... Our level 3 art space is environmentally controlled so that sensitive and fragile artworks can be exhibited, free from the threat of damage from light, moisture or changing temperatures. Have you ever found a Level 3 exhibition particularly cool or warm?

Fact No.

Ffestiniogg slate

Did you know... The Ground Floor of the Riverside Building is made of Ffestiniogg slate from North Wales, while the rest of the floors throughout the building are Swedish pine. To protect the environment we ensured that for each tree felled another one was planted.

Fact No.


Did you know... When you enter the building you may have noticed brown rusty coloured metal at either side of the entrance. This is CorTen steel which starts off looking shiny and grey but when it weathers goes a rusty orange colour. It still stays just as strong. This is same material used to fabricate Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North.

Fact No.

Music at BALTIC

Did you know... we have hosted a range of performances inspired by music, instruments and sound. Performances include rare live music from Rodney Graham, marking his new album and exhibition; and a 19 year old Amy Winehouse before she released any music in 2003.

Fact No.


Did you know... We have a hive on the roof, full of bees from Sunderland, hopefully ‘Mackem and Geordie bees get on!’ – Mick Robson. We are looking forward to tasting some delicious honey in the future!

Fact No.


Did you know... Over the 20 years BALTIC has been open, our resident kittiwakes have produced over 2 tons of guano (bird poo). And yes, we do have to clean it. In 1964 the first 3 nests appeared on BALTIC, increasing to 35 pairs by 1970. Kittiwakes are protected by The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and currently have a ‘Red’ UK conservation status. The clean-up operation after they migrate costs approx. £6,000 (£31 per nest).

Fact No.

Art Lift

Did you know... Our arts lift is the size of a small house and the largest of its kind in the UK. It was installed to allow large pieces of work to be transported around the building. It is capable of taking a 40 tonne lorry up the building.

Fact No.

How many exhibitions do you remember?

Did you know... We have welcomed over 707 artists, in 245 exhibitions from 71 different nationalities or countries of origin. How many exhibitions do you remember?

Fact No.

13 July 2002

Did you know... BALTIC opened at 00.01 on 13 July 2002. In just three hours over 3000 people had visited to see the inaugural exhibition B.OPEN, which featured work and performances by regional, national and international artists. We received over 35,000 visitors in our first week of opening!

Fact No.

Art Space

Did you know... We are home to 2,600 square metres of art space, making us the UK’s largest dedicated contemporary art institution.

Fact No.


Did you know... Dominic Williams, of Ellis Williams architects won the competition to convert BALTIC in 1994, when he was 26 years old. How would you re-design BALTIC?

Fact No.


Did you know... There are multiple theories about the origins of the BALTIC name including being titled after the Baltic Exchange in London (the hub of wheat trading) or because the grain came from the Baltic area. Baltic Flour Mill supplied flour for Rank Hovis bread, so it is most probably named after the Baltic Sea as other Rank Hovis Mills (such as Ocean Mill, Solent Mill and Atlantic Mill) were all similarly named after rivers or seas.

Fact No.

Building History

Did you know... In 1938 the decision was made to build on the derelict site of former chemical works but work was delayed due to WWII. Work finally commenced in 1946 and The Baltic Flour Mill was officially opened in 1950. At one time the mill employed around 300 people; about 170 still worked there when it closed in 1982.