Oriental Museum

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The Oriental Museum is the only museum in the North of Britain devoted solely to the art and archaeology of the Orient. The remarkable collections reveal the great cultures of Asia; the Near and Middle East; and North Africa.

Highlights include the Chinese and Ancient Egyptian collections, which are Designated Collections of national importance.

Venue Type:

Museum

Opening hours

Mon - Fri 10.00-17.00
Sat - Sun & Bank Holidays 12.00-17.00

Closed: Between Christmas & New Year

Admission charges

Adults: £1.50
Children 5-16 and Over 60s: 75p
Family Ticket (2 adults and up to 3 children): £3.50
Free on production of relevant ID: Friends of the Oriental Museum, students in higher education, Durham University staff, Armed Forces, MA and NACF members

Discounts

  • Museums Association

Additional info

See website for details

The Oriental Museum's collections number over 23,500 objects and range in date from prehistoric artefacts to contemporary arts. The collections cover the history and arts of the great cultures of Ancient Egypt, China, Japan, South and South East Asia and Islamic North Africa. The Chinese and Ancient Egyptian collections are Designated Collections of national importance.

The Egyptian collection is one of the best Egyptology resources in Britain. It ranges from the Pre-Dynastic to the Coptic periods in date and includes a wide selection of objects ranging from monumental sculpture to woven sandals. Numerous items of exceptional quality and international significance are included. Particular highlights are a unique 18th Dynasty boxwood carving of a Nubian servant girl; the 18th Dynasty polychrome sycamore boxes of Perpawty; and a fine 13th Dynasty granite statue of the vizier Paser.

The Chinese collection is one of the most comprehensive in Europe. It is a significant and representative collection of pieces from earlier dynasties as well as numerous fine examples from later dynasties. The museum recently purchased (2007) a portfolio of 60 contemporary Chinese prints, representing the work of many of China’s best contemporary printmakers.

Collection details

World Cultures, Weapons and War, Religion, Decorative and Applied Art, Costume and Textiles, Coins and Medals, Archives, Archaeology

Key artists and exhibits

  • 4th Duke of Northumberland's collection of Egyptian antiquities
  • Wellcome Collection of Ancient Egyptian objects
  • Malcolm MacDonald Collection of Chinese Ceramics
  • Sir Charles Hardinge Collection of Chinese jades and bronzes
  • Henry De Laszlo Collection Chinese Collection
  • Designated Collection
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.

China in the MacDonald Gallery

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

Highlights include Tang dynasty tomb models, an exquisite Song dynasty Dingware wedding bowl, a shufu cup and Qing dynasty monochromes.

This gallery is named after Rt. Hon. Malcolm MacDonald, the politician and diplomat.

MacDonald was also a passionate collector of Chinese ceramics and the backbone of this gallery is dedicated to fulfilling his dream of creating a chronological display of the development of this most Chinese of art forms from the Neolithic to the present day.

The Oriental Museum’s Chinese collections have been granted Designated Collection status in recognition of their national and international importance and the rest of this gallery does not disappoint. Highlights include ancient burial jades - including rare body protectors - and ceremonial weapons. There are also ancient bronzes and intricately carved Ming and Qing dynasty jade ornaments.

This gallery was funded by the Designation Development Fund and the Art Fund.

Suitable for

Website

http://www.dur.ac.uk/oriental.museum/whatson/details/?id=20817

West Asia

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

This region of the world has always been a melting pot of beliefs, cultures and artistic traditions. This rich and complex heritage is reflected in the displays in this area.

Focusing on the early centuries of Islam, these displays are only a taster of the depth of this collection. We are working on a new gallery to cover this region in more depth which we are aiming to open in March 2017. In the meantime, these interim displays have been designed to give a flavour of Islamic arts and crafts and include ceramics, calligraphy and metalwork from across the region.

Suitable for

Website

http://www.dur.ac.uk/oriental.museum/whatson/details/?id=20816

Korea

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

The Korean collections are among the smallest in the museum but they are also hugely varied. Support from a number of funders has also enabled us to expand the collection specifically for this space.

This gallery features musical instruments, furniture, ceramics, calligraphy, and scholar’s implements dating from the United Silla dynasty (668-935 CE) to the present day.

Funding has come from the DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund
the Art Fund
the Friends of the Oriental Museum
and the Arts Council for England, via Stories of the World (part of the Cultural Olympiad for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games).

Suitable for

Website

http://www.dur.ac.uk/oriental.museum/whatson/details/?id=20814

Japan

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

See Edo Period wood block prints alongside cels from anime movies
vintage kimono alongside modern street fashion
centuries old ceramics alongside pieces by 20th and 21st century masters.

This gallery has been created in direct response to visitor interest in contemporary Japanese art and culture. Thanks to generous funding by the Art Fund, the Museum has been able to acquire a range of contemporary Japanese art, fashion and domestic goods that complement our historic Japanese collections.

Funding has been provided by the DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund and the Art Fund.

Suitable for

Website

http://www.dur.ac.uk/oriental.museum/whatson/details/?id=20813

Ancient Egyptian art and archaeology

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

This gallery has been designed to introduce younger visitors to Ancient Egypt. Displays cover those topics usually taught at school such as food and farming, building, writing and beliefs.

Labelling has been designed to help parents and teachers guide younger visitors, but there is plenty here for everyone to enjoy.

While younger visitors are playing with the toy pyramid and temple, or trying out a word search, others can enjoy looking at amulets, animal mummies, and exquisite jewellery. Then why not try out our giant game of senet, played by the ancient Egyptians?

This gallery was funded by the DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund.

Suitable for

Website

http://www.dur.ac.uk/oriental.museum/whatson/details/?id=20812

Marvels of China

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

Laid out thematically, the gallery covers topics such as family and home, scholars, agriculture, festivals and arts and crafts.

A large activity area features dressing-up costumes and activity sheets for younger visitors as well as comfy sofas for parents and carers. Replicas of the famous terracotta warriors guard the gallery, painted to look as they would have done when they were buried.

Gallery highlights include imperial porcelain, finely carved lacquer, intricate silver jewellery and a wonderful Chinese bed - made without nails or screws.

This gallery was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Designation Development Fund.

Suitable for

Website

http://www.dur.ac.uk/oriental.museum/whatson/details/?id=20810

Himalayas, India and South East Asia

  • 13 February 2015 — 1 November 2018 *on now

See highlights from our collection of Gandharan sculpture, the earliest artistic style to represent the Buddha, marvel at exquisitely fine Indian jades and enjoy objects from Burma, Brunei, Sarawak and other parts of South East Asia.

The development of this gallery is being supported by the Arts Council for England and the DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund.

Suitable for

Website

http://www.dur.ac.uk/oriental.museum/whatson/details/?id=20815

On the Threshold II Formal Presence - exhibition at Oriental Museum Jan - May 2016

On the Threshold II: Formal Presence

  • 29 January — 19 May 2016 *on now

This exhibition aims to present the meaning of our existence in a post-internet society and the lived experience of different cultures mainly through the mediums of painting and photography while exploring the use of colour.

In the words of Jean-Luc Nancy ‘We are there without leaving the threshold, on the threshold, neither inside nor outside-and perhaps we are, ourselves, the threshold, just as our eye conforms to the plane of the canvas and weaves itself into its fabric.’

The works in this exhibition are drawn from a group of Japanese artists who are either studying in or have graduated from a number of London’s art schools: Goldsmiths College; Slade School of Art at UCL; the University of the Arts; Chelsea College of Arts and Central St. Martins. The artists’ experiences of living in London are transnational and in some ways disjunctive. Their aesthetics wander between West and East, absorbing or denying it totally. These influences are reflected in the works exhibited.

Suitable for

  • Any age
  • Family friendly

Admission

Normal museum admission applies.

Website

https://www.dur.ac.uk/oriental.museum/whatson/exhibitions/

ancient lebanon exhibition at oriental museum

Ancient Lebanon

  • 18 June — 25 September 2016

The people of ancient Lebanon played a fundamental role in shaping the history of the Mediterranean and yet, despite their importance in antiquity, they remain unknown to most people today. Based on the latest research, this exhibition provides an accessible introduction to the culture and society of Lebanon in the ancient world.

Supported by the British Museum, the American University in Beirut and the National Museum of Beirut, this exhibition explores issues of faith, conflict, government, culture and trade in the ancient Levant.

Ancient treasures are displayed alongside everyday artefacts - many of which have never been displayed in the UK before - bringing to life current Durham University research into this fascinating region.

The exhibition forms the centrepiece of a summer long festival of events. Find out more as the project progresses by following us on Twitter (@ancient_lebanon) or Facebook (Ancient Lebanon: An Exhibition).


(Image: Phoenician perfume bottle in the shape of a hedgehog, around 6th century BCE, Oriental Museum number EG5333)

Contact: ancient-lebanon@outlook.com

Suitable for

  • Any age
  • Family friendly

Admission

Normal museum admission applies.

Website

https://www.dur.ac.uk/oriental.museum/whatson/exhibitions/

Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
magnificent mummies

Messy mummies

  • 30 April 2016 1-3pm *on now

Learn all about Ancient Egyptian mummies and create your own canopic jar - complete with gooey organs inside! For children aged 5-11 years. Drop in sessions.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
  • 5-6
  • 7-10
  • Especially for children

Admission

Normal museum admission applies: Adult: £1.50. Children (5-16) and Over 60's: 75p. Family ticket (2 adults and up to three children): £3.50. Children under 5: Free.

Website

http://www.dur.ac.uk/oriental.museum/whatson/family

japanese childrens day

Japanese Children's Day

  • 2 May 2016 1-3pm

Celebrate Japanese Children's Day with traditional carp banner making and origami.

Drop in activity, suitable for children aged 5-11 year. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Suitable for

  • Especially for children
  • 5-6
  • 7-10
  • Especially for children

Admission

Normal museum admission prices apply.

Website

http://www.dur.ac.uk/oriental.museum/whatson/family

tricky tiles

Tricky Tiles

  • 7 May 2016 1-3pm

Take inspiration from the beautiful patterns in the Oriental Museum and decorate your own ceramic tile to take home.

Porcelain pens can stain. Aprons will be provided but please dress appropriately.

Advice for parents and caregivers:
•drop in (any time between 1 and 3 pm) unless otherwise stated.
•this activity is generally suitable for children aged 5 to 11.
•children MUST be accompanied by an adult.

Suitable for

  • Especially for children
  • 5-6
  • 7-10
  • Family friendly
  • Especially for children

Admission

Normal museum admission

Website

http://www.dur.ac.uk/oriental.museum/whatson/

buddhas birthday at the oriental museum 14 May 16

Buddha's Birthday Festival

  • 14 May 2016 12-5pm

Buddha’s Birthday is a national holiday in South Korea and celebrates the birth of the historical Buddha, Gautama Siddhartha.

At the Oriental Museum today there will also be a special performance of Durham University’s Korean drumming group who will play Buddhist temple music to mark the occasion. Crafts will include making your own Korean lotus lantern to take home and there will also be storytelling and Buddha gallery trails throughout the museum. Come and celebrate with us and see the museum decorated with coloured lanterns hanging down from the ceiling.

A special Korean menu has been prepared by ‘The Asian Project’ - a Durham-based street food vendor - and will be available to buy on the day.

Free Entry Today!

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
  • Any age

Where

Oriental Museum

Admission

Free entry today.

Website

https://www.dur.ac.uk/oriental.museum/whatson/events/

Interface Arts Batik lecture and demonstration

Interface Arts: Batik lecture and demonstration

  • 21 May 2016 2:30-4:30pm

The first in a new series of workshops and lectures being run by the Oriental Museum in collaboration with Interface Arts, a collective of artists and crafts people based in County Durham.

Batik is a craft strongly associated with South East Asia and Java in particular.

The process involves applying molten wax to cloth, which is then dyed with cold dye. The waxed areas are waterproof and resist the dye. The process may be repeated to build up a more complex picture, and the wax is finally removed, usually with boiling water. Batik is not a printing process – each piece is a unique work of art. One distinctive feature of batik is the “marbled” effect, achieved by randomly cracking the waxed cloth so that dye penetrates the cracks.

This talk and demonstration will be led by Pete Winstanley. Originally from Surrey, Pete was taught the technique of batik when he was 15, by his brother who had learnt it in Africa. In 1977 Pete moved to County Durham and much of his art since has been inspired by the landscape of the North East. However, his work also draws on the long tradition of batik making in Africa, India, China and particularly Southeast Asia.

Pete will talk about batik and also demonstrate the technique of applying wax to fabric.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Website

https://www.dur.ac.uk/oriental.museum/whatson/

super soap carving

Super soap carving

  • 21 May 2016 1-3pm

Try your hand at soap carving, just like the Chinese craftsmen carved objects from jade.

Suitable for children aged 5-11 years. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
  • 5-6
  • 7-10

Admission

Normal museum admission applies.

Website

http://www.dur.ac.uk/oriental.museum/whatson/

super sphinx

Super sphinx

  • 28 May 2016 1-3pm

With the head of a human and the body of a lion, the Ancient Egyptian Sphinxes were terrifying. Come along and sculpt your own.


Advice for parents and caregivers:
•drop in (any time between 1 and 3 pm) unless otherwise stated.
•this activity is included in the Museum admission price and is generally suitable for children aged 5 to 11.
•children MUST be accompanied by an adult.

Suitable for

  • Especially for children
  • 7-10
  • 5-6

Admission

Normal museum admission applies

Website

https://www.dur.ac.uk/oriental.museum/whatson/

Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

Life in Ancient Egypt

A schools workshop looking at life in Ancient Egypt. The children make extensive use of our galleries and handling collection to explore the subject in depth. There is also the opportunity to participate in role play and mummify some fruit.
(Group size: normally 30 but more by arrangement; Duration: 4 hours including lunch; Level: KS2)

Creator

  • Durham University Museums and Special Collections

How to obtain

For information about booking a visit, please see our website - www.dur.ac.uk/4schools/indexpages/visits.html

Marvels of China

In this schools workshop session children will have the chance to participate in a wide range of activities from exloring the symbolism in Chinese art to having a go at producing their own scrolls. Students will also have the opportunity to take part in a gallery trail, handle original artefacts and engage in fun craft activities.
(Group size: normally up to 30 but larger classes by arrangement; Duration: 2-4 hours; Level: KS2)

Creator

  • Durham University Museums and Special Collections

Treasures of the Oriental Museum, Durham University

On 30th June 2010 the Oriental Museum launched a major new publication to commemorate the Golden Jubilee. This book includes 50 short essays by curators, artists, students, researchers and collectors from the UK and around the world. Eash essay offers a different view on an object from the collections accompanied by all new colour photography of these stunning objects.

Publisher

  • TMI Group

How to obtain

Order forms can be downloaded from our website, or you can order via the Durham University Retail Office website: www.dur.ac.uk/university.shop/

Turning Japanese

This schools workshop session offers students the chance to experience a wide range of activities aimed at increading knowledge and understanding of Japanese culture. Activities include a gallery trail, making a Japanese kite, and origami. Schools can also combine this session with a visit to the nearby Botanic Garden to look at the plants that inspire Japanese art.
(Group size: noramlly one class but larger groups may be able to be accommodated; Duration: 2-4 hours; Level: KS2)

Creator

  • Durham University Museums and Special Collections

Oriental Museum
Durham University
Elvet Hill
Durham
DH1 3TH
England

Website

www.durham.ac.uk/oriental.museum

E-mail

All enquiries

oriental.museum@durham.ac.uk

Telephone

All enquiries

0191 334 5694

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.
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