Durham Heritage Centre and Museum

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Durham Heritage Centre and Museum tells the story of the City of Durham from medieval times to the present day. The museum is situated in the redundant Church of St Mary-le-Bow, close to the World Heritage Site of the Cathedral and Castle.

A visit to the Museum with its stimulating exhibitions, models, hands-on activities and videos is the perfect introduction to Durham. Displays describe the origins and development of the city and there are many fascinating objects that illustrate everyday life from the 17th century to the present day. The Museum is County Durham's only brass rubbing centre.

There is also an exciting programme of activities for school visits and frequent temporary exhibitions.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

Sat-Sun 1400-1630
Daily 1400-1630
Daily 1100-1630

Collection details

Archaeology, Costume and Textiles, Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Weapons and War, Personalities, Archives, Science and Technology, Social History, Land Transport

Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.

Sculpture Garden

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

Outside the Museum, in the sculpture garden, there are two important works by internationally renowned local sculptor, Fenwick Lawson.

Immediately in front of you, you will see a sculpture called 'Cuthbert of Farne'. Fenwick carved this striking work in elm in 1984 and gave it to the Museum in 2004. There is also a bronze cast of this sculpture on show at the Abbey on Lindisfarne.

At the bottom of the garden, you will find a sculpture called 'Gaia' which represents the Greek goddess of the Earth. Fenwick also carved this work in 1984 and presented it to the Museum in 2011. He can be seen standing next to 'Gaia' in the photo on the left.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly



Modern Durham Displays

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

Up in the gallery of the Museum, you can see displays about the 20th century.

They include objects from the war years; a model of proposed post-war changes to Durham; and a video showing important 20th century developments in the City.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly



Victorian Durham Displays

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

Explore our detailed model of Durham's Market Place in the 1830s. Below the model is a photograph of the Market Place after it was rebuilt in the Victorian period. You can compare the model with the photograph to see how much the Market Place has changed.

Our displays illustrate Durham industries, past and present. Organs are still made in Durham today. Brewing, mustard manufacture, carpet-making, cotton-weaving and other industries, however, have all left the city.

The coal mining section recalls a time when there were eight mines within the boundaries of the city and children worked underground. Above the mining display, there is a fine example of a miners' banner.

You can visit our recreation of a Victorian prison cell. Perhaps it may help you imagine the life of a prisoner locked up alone in the cell for a large part of each day, over a period of many months or years.



Georgian Durham Displays

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

There are displays about Georgian Durham describing town & country houses, theatres and transport. One notable country house that is featured is Burn Hall.

The noted northern architect Ignatius Bonomi designed Burn Hall in 1821 for the Salvin family of Croxdale. It replaced an earlier hall but was built on a more elevated site.

You can find out about crime and punishment in Georgian Durham from our displays.

Amongst other things, an impressive new court house designed by Ignatius Bonomi was completed in 1811. Behind it, a large prison, also designed by Bonomi, was completed in 1819.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly



Early Durham Displays

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

Our model of the medieval city of Durham shows how the River Wear kept the city safe from enemies. The displays explore: the story of Durham Castle, palace of the Prince Bishops; why the Cathedral was built; and why it was such an important place of pilgrimage.

You can find out about life in the medieval town. The Prince Bishops ruled over daily life and Scottish raids were a constant threat. This danger lessened after the English victory at the Battle of Neville's Cross in 1346, within sight of the Cathedral.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly



Durham Heritage Centre and Museum
St Mary-le-Bow
North Bailey

logo: Heritage Open Days 2014






0191 384 5589

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.