Oriental Museum

oriental museum servant girl
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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

Normal 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.
Macdonald gallery

China in the MacDonald Gallery

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2020 *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.

Admission

Normal museum admission applies

Website

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

Moon jar

Korea

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2020 *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).

Website

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

Japan gallery

Japan

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2020 *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.

Admission

Normal museum admission applies.

Website

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

Wolfson Gallery of Ancient Egypt Oriental Museum

Ancient Egyptian art and archaeology

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2020 *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.

Website

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

South Asia Gallery

Himalayas, India and South East Asia

  • 13 February 2015 — 1 November 2020 *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.

Admission

Normal museum admission applies.

Website

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

Thacker Gallery of Ancient Egypt

Thacker Gallery Ancient Egypt

  • 16 June 2017 — 1 November 2020 *on now

This collection holds 'Designated Status' on the basis of its national and international importance and the newly refurbished gallery showcases this amazing collection to its full potential. Every object is a treasure and the gallery has been designed to showcase the collection with the minimum of intervention, letting the objects speak for themselves.

Statues, jewellery, a sphinx and even a seven foot high granite obelisk are all on display. The world famous ‘servant girl’ statuette is housed here. As one of the few surviving pieces of sculpture to break away from the conventions of the Egyptian artistic style, this uniquely realistic work has fascinated generations of Egyptologists and art historians.

This gallery has been completely refurbished and redesigned. Reopened on 26th February 2016 it is named after man responsible for the founding of the Oriental Museum, Professor T.W. Thacker and is home to the highlights of the Ancient Egyptian collection.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Normal museum admission applies.

Website

https://www.dur.ac.uk/oriental.museum/whatson/details/?id=20811

east meets west

Interface Arts presents 'East Meets West'

  • 26 September — 15 December 2019 *on now

Interface Arts is a network for artists in County Durham and the surrounding areas. This exhibition showcases works influenced by both the Oriental Museum’s collections and Durham University’s contemporary Western Art collections.

Interface members explored Durham University’s Western Art collection, which includes prints, drawing and sculpture. The themes of this collection include Pop Art, British Modernism, the St Ives Group, and the Pitmen Painters.

The group also took part in a number of workshops at the Oriental Museum exploring objects from the Ancient Egyptian, Japanese, Chinese and South Asian collections in detail and the rich stories behind the objects.

The complex interplay of influences from East and West, materials, techniques as well as members own interests combine to make a stimulating and thought-provoking exhibition.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Normal admission prices apply.

Website

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

silk roads gallery

Silk Roads

  • 23 October 2019 — 28 May 2020 *on now

This major new gallery will open on 29th May 2020, transforming the ground floor of the Oriental Museum.

Silk Roads will be an introductory gallery for the whole museum, bringing together works from across our collections to tell stories of trade, travel and exchange across the continent of Asia and into Europe, all the way to Durham.

Silk, ceramics and spices have travelled these trade routes for centuries. At the same time people have exchanged knowledge, learned about other faiths and been influenced by new artistic styles.

The new gallery will feature visitor favourites such as our magnificent Chinese bed alongside objects never seen before. We will update you as the project progresses. Keeping checking our website for updates.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Normal museum admission will apply.

Website

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

Pushing Paper at the Oriental Museum

A British Museum touring exhibition Pushing paper: contemporary drawing from 1970 to now

  • 29 February — 17 May 2020

A British Museum touring exhibition illustrating how artists experiment with the power of paper to express their ideas pushing the medium in new directions.

The exhibition highlights the breadth and quality of the British Museum’s collection of modern art, as well as its global scope.

Amongst the oldest forms of human creativity, drawing is experiencing a resurgence in popularity as artists increasingly choose the medium as a means to examine the modern world, with topics ranging from explorations of gender and political activism to questions of belonging and human sexuality.

The exhibition of 56 works will showcase the astonishing diversity of contemporary drawing over the last fifty years, with graphic work by artists such as David Hockney, Rachel Whiteread, Sol LeWitt, Anish Kapoor, Tracey Emin and Grayson Perry, as well as exciting works by emerging artists like Hamid Sulaiman and Rachel Duckhouse.

For the first time, the British Museum has co-curated this exhibition with partner museums from around the UK. In a new way of working, curatorial staff from partner museums collaborated with the British Museum to decide on themes within the exhibition and to research and select the works on display, as well as contribute chapters to the accompanying catalogue. Curators from the partner museums involved in the project included Alix Collingwood-Swinburn, Curator of Western Art at Durham University.

Generously supported by the Bridget Riley Art Foundation


Image: Richard Deacon (b. 1949), Some interference 14.01.06, 2006, ink and graphite on paper © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Reproduced by permission of the artist

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Normal museum admission charges apply.

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

http://www.durham.ac.uk/oriental.museum

E-mail

All enquiries

oriental.museum@durham.ac.uk

Telephone

All enquiries

0191 334 5691

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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