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The Pleasures and Pains of Collecting

(7 December 2018)

To mark the 50th anniversary of the acquisition of the Malcolm Macdonald collection of Chinese ceramics at the Oriental Museum, we are delighted to launch a new book entitled 'The Pleasures and Pains of Collecting'. The book is available for sale from the Oriental Museum, priced £12 in hardback. It will also be available to purchase online from the Durham University Shop

Supported by the generosity of the Friends of the Oriental Museum, the book charts the fascinating life of politician, diplomat, collector and former Durham University Chancellor, Rt Hon Malcolm MacDonald.

The Pleasures and Pains of Collecting was written by former Durham University Chancellor Malcolm MacDonald himself, telling the stories of the head-hunters, antique dealers, royalty, indigenous craftsmen, statesmen and diplomats he met during his remarkable career, which took him around the world from the 1920s to the 1970s.

The son of former Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, he was a passionate collector, interested in everything from European furniture to Canadian paintings and Asian antiquities.

MacDonald’s Chinese ceramics and other Asian antiquities are some of the most important collections now housed in the Oriental Museum. Through his links to the Museum, MacDonald fell in love with Durham, serving as University Chancellor in the 1970s and leaving his extensive archive to Palace Green Library.

The unpublished manuscript for this book was part of that archive. Thanks to the efforts of Leeds University PhD student, Alexander Shaw, we are now able to share this remarkable story.

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