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Our Collections

We are custodians of internationally recognised cultural collections, housed and displayed at Palace Green Library, the Oriental Museum, Durham Castle and across our campus. These include important collections of European, Asian and African art and archaeology; social history and anthropological collections; biological specimens; archives; manuscripts; and early printed books from around the world. Four of our cultural collections have been granted elite “Designated Collection” status by Arts Council England in recognition of their global significance.

About our collections

Our extensive and wide-ranging collections and are used by members of the university, the wider academic community, schools and members of the public, for learning, teaching, research and enjoyment. They include print books and journals, ebooks and ejournals, articles, reports, theses dissertations, databases, datasets and other research sources, images, recordings, news and open access resources.

Learn more


Our library catalogue, Discover, provides simple one-stop searching across all our collections.
A 17th century painting of Durham featuring the cathedral and castle

Subject guides

Our subject guides highlight important resources and help you to explore our collections and get the most from them.
Palace Green Library books

Museums, Galleries and Exhibitions

Collections date from 250,000 years ago to the present day and come from over 60 different countries.
Showcases, art and museum displays at the Oriental Museum over three levels

Archives and Special Collections

Collections include archives, manuscripts, printed books, photographs, maps, and films.
Books on bookcases in Cosin’s Library with a chair in front of a pillar

Content and language warning

We make our collections accessible to all for the purposes of academic and community research, and provide catalogues to them online. In accordance with standard professional practice our catalogues will reflect the language of the collection and of its original creators; additionally, the catalogues may have been written many years ago when the collection was first received by the university. Voices, objects and images from the past can display attitudes, opinions and relate to events which may be viewed as biased and offensive in today’s society. Other voices are not present. We are committed to listening to all communities and welcome your engagement. If you wish to contact us about any language used in our catalogues or about any particular item in our collections please make a note of the reference number and contact us.