Plans for an ambitious £25.7m 'super' museum which would be home to more than 500,000 artefacts are gathering pace.
A 2,500 year-old lion's head destined for the new museum
On Wednesday the Heritage Lottery Fund announced it was donating more than £9.2m to the Great North Museum scheme.
It is due to be completed in 2009 and will involve an extension and revamp of Newcastle's Hancock Museum.
It will house Stone Age fossils and treasures from Ancient Greece currently on show at the Museum of Antiquities, Hatton Gallery and Shefton Museum.
Currently the collections are tucked away on the Newcastle University campus which can be difficult to get to.
Carole Souter, director of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: "Opening up and uniting this treasure trove of collections is a wonderful use of lottery money.
An artist's impression of what the new museum will look like
"The new museum will enable a much deeper exploration of the past and it will be a great focus for the developing cultural quarter in Newcastle."
Newcastle University is leading the £25.7m project, which has the backing of Tyne and Wear Museums, Newcastle City Council, the Society of Antiquaries and the Natural History Society of Northumbria.
The university and the city council have each pledged £3m to the project.
The announcement of the HLF funding is also set to unlock a further £7m from the Regional Development Agency, One North East and the European Regional Development Fund.
The museum will bring together under one roof the north-east of England's archaeological heritage, from prehistoric rock carvings to Anglo-Saxon sculptures, from the might of the Romans on Hadrian's Wall.