Heritage Collections Annual Reports
Annual Report August 2007 - July 2008
Below you will find a summary of key points from the Annual Report for Durham University Heritage Collections. Information on the activities of the University Museums is followed by a summary of the work of Archives and Special Collections.
The full report can also be downloaded from this page:
- Annual Report August 2007 - July 2008 (1.2 MB PDF) (last modified: 21 October 2008)
During 2007-08 ten visiting exhibitions were staged at the Oriental Museum and four at the Old Fulling Mill. Highlights included:
- Inochi to Heiwa - Life and Peace (contemporary Japanese art by Kenji Yoshida)
- Chen Qi (Chinese ink paintings)
- Picturing China (19th and 20th century photographs) and
Miller: portraits (images by the
Many staff were heavily involved in preparation for the international touring exhibition Egyptian Art from Eton College and Durham University which is visiting four locations in Japan during 2008. The creation of a new Egyptian gallery designed specifically to support schools teaching has been funded using the income from the exhibition and is now open. Additional income has been directed towards the planning and implementation of a programme of major gallery improvements at the Oriental Museum and the Old Fulling Mill Museum of Archaeology which will be rolled out during 2008-09.
Awards and recognition
The quality of the collections at the Oriental Museum has been recognised by the granting of Designated Collection status to the Chinese and Ancient Egyptian collections. The quality of experience offered to the Oriental Museum's visitors has likewise been recognised by the granting of certification in VisitBritain's quality assurance scheme (VAQAS). For the first time, the Oriental Museum has been listed in the 2008 edition of the Time Out guidebook 1000 Things to Do in Britain.
New acquisitions included a significant portfolio of 60 contemporary Chinese woodblock prints purchased from the Muban Foundation. Details of other donations can be found in the full report.
Visits to the Oriental Museum totalled 16,247 and at the Old Fulling Mill 8,117. While this represents a welcome 14% increase at the Old Fulling Mill, there was a 22% drop in visitors to the Oriental Museum. The bulk of the decrease in Oriental Museum visitors can be attributed to the lack of schools educational provision for much of the year due to the ill-health of our Education Officer. This resulted in a loss of 2,319 school-age visitors and 149 adult teachers/carers. Now that the education team is back to full strength, we will be working hard in 2008-09 to reverse this trend.
Archives & Special Collections
The most significant acquisition of the year was an illuminated late medieval Book of Hours written in Rouen. This was made possible thanks to a donation by Mrs Krystyna Holland and a bequest by Mr John M. Fleming.
Accessions to the Sudan Archive increased this year, mainly with donations of material relating to the period after independence. These included the papers of historians Professor Richard Grey and Dr Louise Pirouet, and additions to the papers of Professor Robert Collins as well as material from the human rights organisation, Justice Africa.
By far the largest amount of new accessions was added to the University archive. This adds to the large amount of other University material such as the archives of St John's College, which were added this year.
Significant progress was made in cataloguing the major accessions of University archives and in sorting and cataloguing the many University photographs that have been placed in the archive in recent years. Other major cataloguing projects have included -
- the Whitehead papers,
- the William Plomer collection,
- British Record Association deeds,
- the Wingate papers
- the Oriental Manuscript collections.
In the Cathedral archives online catalogues of 5 more of the Cathedral Archive Locelli series were completed and progress was made in the weeding and listing of modern Chapter Clerk's files. In the North East Inheritance Project, the cataloguers are well on target with their cataloguing and the volunteers are now tackling the registered wills series.
The whole question of the digitisation of well-used and fragile parts of the archives has been prominent this year. Apart from continued requests from academics in the Sudan itself for the digitisation of material in the Sudan Archive for online use, there have been continual requests from scholars for digital photographs of other items in the collections. A funding application to JISC for a Sudan Archive Digitisation project has been successful. The project will commence next year and the equipment to be purchased can then be used for other collections.
Reader numbers and services provided
The numbers of registered readers dropped very slightly this year compared with 2006/7, with 705 registered readers compared to 739 last year. In contrast, the number of day visits has continued to increase, rising from 2564 in 2006/07 to 2623 this year. Whilst the numbers of external readers has decreased, once again those who have come have often stayed longer and asked for more documents and books to be produced and more reprographic work to be done. Detailed information is available in the full report.
Liaison with the Academic Support team has worked very successfully this year with a new programme of postgraduate induction which included ASC. There has also been an increase in the courses for which we have provided display classes. Links with individual academics have been gradually improving, helped by the contacts created through work on the Treasures book.
Conservation and Collections care
The valuable work of the conservation unit was recognised this year by the award of the ICON National Conservation Award for Collections Care 2007 for the North East Collections Care Scheme 2002-6.
The exhibitions held at Palace Green Library this year featured liaison with different groups which enhanced their impact and strengthened ASC's outreach network.
- The exhibition to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Sudan Archive proved a great success. Its opening was attended by the Sudanese Ambassador as well as members of the Sudanese pensioner community, descendants of Sudan pensioners and distinguished members of the Sudanese academic community.
- The Josephine Butler exhibition brought close working with the principal and tutors of Josephine Butler College leading to a fascinating and well-attended series of lectures and the offer of items from a member of the Butler family.
Access and Learning
The on-site work of access and learning has continued to grow this year with more visits from schools. New projects involving liaison with not only the museums but also the Castle have proved successful. The quality of the library's online work has been recognised nationally this year by the invitation to include the material in the UN-backed CUP/Smart Global Grid for Learning and also for a request to provide the online educational content of the JISC/RLUK 19th century pamphlets digitisation project.The close working relationship between the education staff at the university museums and the library was formalised this year with the creation of the Heritage Collections Access & Learning Group. This will ensure the best possible service is provided to all visiting school groups.
Treasures of Durham University Library published September 2007
Egyptian objects from the Oriental Museum on tour in Japan