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Durham University

Libraries and Special Collections in County Durham

The Auckland Project

A world class art, faith and heritage destination is being created in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, with a mission to revitalise the future of this former industrial town.

The Auckland Project which aims to offer employment, training and educational opportunities, will include two art galleries, a faith museum and the former Bishop’s Palace, Auckland Castle.

Home to the Prince Bishops of Durham for more than 900 years, the Castle includes a former twelfth-century banqueting hall, converted into the largest private chapel in Europe by John Cosin (Bishop of Durham 1660 – 1672), as well as Jacob and His Twelve Sons, a renowned set of paintings by Spanish master Francisco de Zurbarán (1598 – 1664). It is currently undergoing a multimillion-pound conservation programme and is due to reopen to the public spring 2019.

Nearby, the Spanish Gallery, will present works from the medieval period to the present day, with a focus on Spain’s Golden Age in the 17th century. It will draw on works from The Auckland Project collection and loans from museums, galleries and individuals from around the world, including the Meadows Museum, SMU Dallas andthe Banco Santander Collection, Madrid. The gallery will be linked to Durham University’s Zurbarán Centre for Spanish and Latin American Art.

The Faith Museum will be the first museum in England to explore the history of faith in Britain and Ireland from prehistory to the present day. A purpose-built extension to Auckland Castle will create four specially designed galleries, which will use rare and compelling objects from The Auckland Project’s own collection, along with national and local private and public collections, to explore personal experiences of faith as well as wider national and social change.

Access and opening times

The Auckland Project welcomes academic researchers from a wide range of disciplines to study its historic buildings, collections and archive.

The collections will be of particular interest to those studying art history, history, theology and religion, archaeology, architecture, architectural history, and the lives of the Prince Bishops.

Access is currently by appointment only due to the conservation of Auckland Castle and the ongoing development of the other galleries and attractions. Appointments can be arranged by emailing The Auckland Project’s Curatorial Team on

The Team may also be able to offer research placements.

Contact The Auckland Project

Auckland Castle

Auckland Castle
Bishop Auckland
Co. Durham DL14 7NR

Tel: +44 (0)1388 743750