Back in the 1950s, Baltic was a flour mills used to store grain, with the River Tyne being used as a key route for trading with Scandinavian and Baltic states. The company that built it had a habit of naming its warehouses after famous oceans of the world, hence its name. The Baltic Flour Mill was built by the Rank Hovis company to a late-1930s design by architects Gelder and Kitchen and completed in 1950. It was extended in 1957 by the addition of an animal feed mill. The mill was closed in 1981, and remained derilict for many years, it was one of a number of mills located along the banks of the Tyne, all of which, due to their size, were prominent local landmarks.
After ten years in the planning and a capital investment of £50m, including £33.4m from the Arts Council Lottery Fund, BALTIC opened to the public at midnight on Saturday 13 July 2002. The Baltic, the Sage and the Millenium Bridge all opened within 2 years of each other, together they have transformed the Quayside.