Durham University has recently completed a multi-million pound refurbishment of Palace Green Library, situated between Durham Castle and Cathedral at the heart of the World Heritage Site. This has created an opportunity to build a new, larger, archaeology gallery within Palace Green Library, a location that will be far more accessible for visitors.
No-one would disagree that the location of the Museum of Archaeology within the Old Fulling Mill was beautiful. However, museums and rivers don’t mix well and the Old Fulling Mill proved vulnerable to flooding, potentially endangering the collections held there. The new gallery at Palace Green Library will provide a much safer environment for the museum’s objects and at the same time offer a greatly enhanced experience for visitors with better facilities, improved access and increased space for events and activities.
The Old Fulling Mill Museum closed in June 2013, and displays and exhibitions are now held at Palace Green Library.
The museum is still actively involved in supporting teaching and research, working with departments ranging from Archaeology and Anthropology to Geography and Theology. However, we are also open to the public seven days a week attracting almost 25,000 visitors each year including more than 5,000 local school children. This has meant making changes to the museum to meet the needs of these visitors.
In 2000 the museum closed so that an additional mezzanine floor could be added which now houses the Marvels of China displays which provide an introduction to China for the general visitor. The teaching rooms have all been converted one by one into galleries or storage, including a gallery designed specifically for use by schools visiting to learn about Ancient Egypt. Museum staff now run a very active programme of activities for children under 11 throughout the year.
The collections have continued to grow and the Oriental Museum now houses around 30,000 objects with collections covering Egypt, the Near and Middle East, China, Japan, Korea, India and the Himalayan region and stretching into South East Asia. The Ancient Egyptian and Chinese collections are of particular significance and hold 'Designated Status', recognising their importance on a national and international scale.