Oriental Museum

oriental museum servant girl
baby changing facilities icon Food icon Shop icon Study area icon Visual disability facilities icon Wheelchair access icon

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.
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

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

west asia gallery Oriental Museum

West Asia

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2020 *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 2018. 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.

Website

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

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

Marvels of china

Marvels of China

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2020 *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.

Website

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

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

behind the mask exhibition

The Art Studio presents: Behind the Mask

  • 1 February — 2 June 2019 *on now

The Art Studio is a Sunderland-based mental health charity that provides support to improve the lives of members through art.

Members of The Art Studio have taken part in a series of workshops at the Oriental Museum focused on the museum’s Ancient Egyptian collections. Members discovered and learnt about the Ancient Egyptian collections at the museum and created art inspired by these visits and the museum artefacts. The art displayed reflects the varied interests of group members. The exhibition includes work in a variety of media and styles.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Where

Room EH009, Elvet Hill House (adjacent to the Oriental Museum)

Admission

Normal admission prices apply.

Website

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

cham-centuries exhibition

Homelands: Documenting Centuries of Cham Migration

  • 1 February — 16 September 2019 *on now

The Cham are an ethnic minority group from Southeast Asia. Historically, Cham territory included several kingdoms in what is today central and southern Vietnam, but as a result of repeated defeats and persecution the Cham were dispersed throughout the region. Cham communities can now be found on Hainan island in the South China Sea, Vietnam, Cambodia Thailand and Malaysia as well as further afield in the US, Canada, France and Australia.

In 2016, photographer James Sebright travelled around the South China Sea region, meeting Cham communities in China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia. This exhibition reveals the outcomes of his work documenting the lives and livelihoods of the Cham diaspora.

The exhibition is open from 1 February to 16 September 2019

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
  • Any age

Admission

Normal museum admission applies.

Website

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

things from home installation oriental museum durham

Things from Home

  • 22 March — 27 October 2019 *on now

An installation of contemporary ceramics is inspired by the objects, landscapes and food that international students miss most when they are away from home. The works were created by award winning ceramic artist, Katrin Moye.

Katrin worked with international students at the University of Nottingham on an Arts Council funded project to develop and test her ideas about how objects that are missing from our lives assume a great importance in our memories.

The (predominantly Chinese) students who were far away from their homes, often for the first time in their lives, told her about special things they missed from home. The artist used their verbal descriptions of these things to make a collection of hand built ceramic objects which interpret and recreate the missing things for their owners.

Often, the ceramic objects bear little resemblance to the original. The artist relied only on the words the students used to describe their missing things, and she has filled in the blanks with guesswork and imagination – revealing the cultural disconnect and difficulties experienced when living in an unfamiliar environment and speaking in a new language. The words spoken by the students have been reproduced on ceramic plinths supporting the objects, becoming an intrinsic part of the work itself.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Normal 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 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.
advertisement