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Durham University

Art Collection

Researching the Collections

Although our galleries are current closed, Durham University remains open to support research and teaching.

Our team is continuing to provide support for students, academics and members of the public studying our collections in Durham and around the world.

While we cannot currently arrange research visits to our museums, we are doing our best to facilitate researchers within the current restrictions.

Discover our collections

An overview of our art collection is available here. A significant proportion of the university’s wider collections are available online in a single resource discovery system: Discover. Find out more here. We are constantly working to improve our art collection database and new records and images are added regularly, but numbers are currently limited.

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

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 to 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 not a quick fix, to achieve their full potential they should be planned in, at least in outline, at the point of grant writing.

Durham currently has a number of museum/gallery spaces and an annual arts festival (Summer in the City) which can be used for 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 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.