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Researching the collections

Discover our collections

An overview of our collections is available here. A significant proportion of the objects in our collections are available online in a single resource discovery system: Discover. We are constantly working to improve our on-line database and new records and images are added regularly. The database is updated overnight every night to ensure that the most up-to-date information is always available.

Curators are happy to provide additional information on collections. Database records or images suitable for research can often be emailed to researchers and we can supply publication-quality images where they are available. Please email for more information.

Making an appointment to research the collections

Due to limited space and Covid safety restrictions, we are restricted with the number of researchers we are able to welcome at this time.

Find information on our current opening hours for research visits. Please use our Guidelines for Researchers to help us to help you plan your visit.


To obtain permission to publish images supplied to you for research purposes, please complete the 'permission to publish' form downloadable from this page (see box on the right hand side) and return it to the museum.

Information on rates for commercial publication can obtained from the museum photographer by emailing

REF impact

This guidance is intended to help academics planning REF impact as part of grant applications.

One aspect of assessing impact under REF involves engaging the public with research. Durham’s University Museums can work with academic partners to help achieve this kind of impact.

Key points regarding this kind of impact include:

  • Public engagement activities must show ‘a distinctive contribution of the department’s research’ – there must be a clear link between defined research outcomes and the impact
  • The impact case study must clearly define the SIGNIFICANCE or BENEFITS arising from the public engagement activity. This must go beyond showing how the research was disseminated. Creating an exhibition is not enough: evaluation of that exhibition is vital if benefit is to be demonstrated.
  • The best case studies go beyond ‘business as usual’ engagement, such as public lectures. Successful case studies attract widespread interest or involve a programme of activity which is innovative, sustainable or creates legacy resources.
  • HEFCE suggest that a timeframe of up to 15 years between impact and the underpinning research is broadly appropriate if the institution remains active in the relevant area of research. Public engagement activities with the museums are accordingly not a quick fix. To achieve their full potential they should be planned for, at least in outline, at the point of grant writing.

Durham currently has a number of museum/gallery spaces which can be used to support these activities.

At all venues, exhibition schedules are confirmed up to two or three years in advance. Departments wishing to work with Museum staff on impact-related activities are urged to contact the relevant staff as early as possible in the process of planning of their project. We can recommend a range of public engagement options and provide costs for insertion into grant applications.

Please contact Dr Craig Barclay if you would like any more information.

Discover our collections

Search Durham collections using our online database. Explore items from the Museum of Archaeology displays and our research collections.

Find out more