UK arguably has the best collection of museums in the world, from science to natural history, all across the country. The Oriental Museum in Durham, however, is the only museum in the North of England that is entirely devoted to the great and ancient cultures of Northern Africa and Asia. From art to archaeology, visit this unique museum in Durham to discover the fascinating cultures of the Orient!

What are the best museums in Durham?

The Oriental Museum at University of Durham is home to two elite designated collections of importance, with a range of fascinating exhibitions and galleries, themed from China to Japan and Northern Africa. You'll find the museum just over a mile north of the train station, a 30 minute walk or 5 minute drive.

The Oriental Museum is home to a spectacular range of artworks, archaeological artefacts and stories from Northern Africa and Asia that you won’t be able to find anywhere else in the UK – there are more than 36,000 objects, with galleries ranging from ancient history to present day.

Discover the world class collection dedicated to China, from Neolithic times, the famous arts of the Ming and Qing dynasties and imperial ceramics that were used in the Emperors home. Explore ancient carvings in tortoise shells that marked the beginnings of the Chinese calligraphy system, elaborate costumes, fascinating photos from a changing China in the 19th century, and their 2000 piece collection of jade, the largest in the UK! Admire the world famous craftsmanship of Japan in their Japanese collection, with swords, armour and silk kimonos from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Uncover the mysterious and legendary world of Egypt, with the largest ancient Egyptian collection in the North East. From stone sculptures to golden amulets, there are over 7000 objects that date as far back as 5500 BCE. This collections significance has earned an elite designated collection status by Arts Council England!

These are only some of the fantastic collections waiting to be explored at the Oriental Museum in Durham, with additional collections from the Himalayas, South Asia, Korea and more.

  • Look out for their featured exhibitions and events on their What’s On page.
  • Opening hours:
    Tuesday – Friday between 10am-5pm (Thursday evening opening until 7pm)
    Saturday – Sunday between 12pm-5pm
  • Free entry to all visitors.
  • Shop and café available on site.
  • Click here for accessibility information.
  • Check this page for detailed directions.

Check out things to do nearby...