On Sunday afternoon we decided to head down the A1 to visit Durham for a few hours. It’s a gorgeous city that we don’t visit often enough. In the past we have enjoyed lovely afternoons strolling along the river with a picnic in hand. Durham is also a great place for a browse in the shops too as they are all compact in an easy to navigate area. One of the Treasure Trails we completed last year was in Durham which took us around the cit, past the river and through the impressive cathedral. The girls loved the lego replica of the cathedral and enjoyed placing their brick in the section for a donation. Today would involve a bit of geocaching, shopping and a visit to the Durham Oriental Museum.
Durham Oriental Museum
Having done the local museums to death (Great North Museum and Discovery I’m looking at you!) we were keen to go somewhere new. My knowledge of the Durham Oriental museum was zero so went unsure of what to expect. Popping the directions in the sat nav we were soon there. The museum is located in the heart of the Durham University campus next to Van Mildert college. Part of Durham University’s School of Archaeology, the Oriental Museum is easy to find with plenty of parking outside of the entrance.
Entry fee for a family ticket was a budget friendly £3.50. At the counter the girls were handed 2 different trails on a clipboard for them to follow by a friendly member of staff. There was no additional cost for the sheets as you find in some museums. Abigail’s was a tick box form while looking for artefacts, which were in the Cbeebies show ‘Teacup Travels’. Imogen’s a more in depth sheet which involved a bit of drawing and looking closely in the cases for the answers. Nothing motivates my kids more that a worksheet and a pencil so already they were happy!
The Oriental Museum is surprisingly big. Located on 3 floors we were handed a map to keep us right. It was hard to get lost though as it flowed well and each section sign posted. China, Egypt, Himalayas, India, Japan, Korea and the Middle East all had their own section. A little table stocked with kids colouring in sheets, children’s books and toys that related to the area was well received. The girls enjoyed colouring in a chinese dragon, an Eygptian mummy and a Japanese cartoon character.
Imogen studied the Egyptians in Year 3 and I was impressed at her knowledge of the subject. She told us all about the mummification process and the embalming. I can imagine this is a popular topic with teachers as kids love a bit of gore!
I’m not a big history expert and haven’t actually visited Asia but I found this museum really interesting. Stand out artefacts were the huge chinese bed, the shrines to Indian Gods, the amazing Ming pottery, and the Egyptian mummy.
The Durham Oriental Museum had a contemporary feel too with a section on the development of the Japanese games industry and the Korean pop music (K-pop) which we have to blame for Gangham Style!
The Durham Oriental museum is well organised, easy to navigate and flowed well. The addition of the quiz sheets for the kids kept the girls engaged throughout the museum. On completion of the sheets they were handed some stickers and postcards which they were pleased with. The purchase of fortune cookie at 40p didn’t break the bank either.
If you are looking for a budget friendly afternoon I would give Durham Oriental Museum a visit! Our visit was a leisurely 1.5 hours long.
Too late for us but the museum has an under 5 group the Little Dragons which looks like fun. £1 for a session which includes songs, story time, crafts, role-play, gallery hunts and object handling. Sound like a bargain!
Durham University also has a Botanical Garden which we would like to check out on our next visit. It was, however, a cold day and we were ready to split the gang for an afternoon of shopping (me and Abigail) and Geocaching (Alan and Imogen). Everyone’s a winner!