Skip to main content

Partnership with the Palace Museum Beijing

In December 2016, Durham University and China’s Palace Museum signed an agreement, bringing together these two world-renowned centres of research and cultural excellence for the first time. The agreement, which is the first between the Palace Museum and an English university, builds on Durham University’s already strong links with China. 

The new partnership has developed from research currently being undertaken between the University’s Department of Archaeology and experts from the Palace Museum in Beijing, into early examples of Chinese pottery and porcelain found in Europe, Africa and West Asia. The research aims to reveal more about the trading history of China as far back as the tenth Century AD. 

Curators at the Oriental Museum have collaborated with colleagues in Beijing, contributing to international symposia and academic publications in China. In 2019 and 2020, the Oriental Museum was an important lender to a major international exhibition, Longquan of the World: Longquan Celadon and Globalisation, which was held at the Palace Museum and then at the Zhejiang Provincial Museum (Hangzhou).

In July 2023 the MOU was renewed for a further five years. This special occasion was held at the Oriental Museum and saw the gathering of delegates from the Palace Museum and Durham representatives from senior management, the Oriental Museum and the Department of Archaeology.  

The renewal of the agreement enables further in-depth partnership projects in the coming years. Colleagues from both institutions are currently working towards a knowledge exchange workshop to take place at the Palace Museum in 2024.

Two collaborative exhibitions are under discussion for 2025, celebrating the centenary of the Palace Museum. Pending final agreement, an exhibition in Beijing will focus on the joint fieldwork in the Indian Ocean on Chinese trade ceramics during the past decade. A show in Durham will be centred upon historical photographs illustrating 100 years of history of the Forbidden City as a public museum since 1925.

Looking further ahead, it is hoped that a major exhibition featuring key objects from the Oriental Museum will travel to the Palace Museum in 2027/28, underpinned by joint research in exploring the significance of technology in the production and consumption of Chinese ceramics.

Find out more: 


Visitors to the Lonquan of the World exhibition look at a lantern on loan from the Oriental Museum.

Visitors to the Lonquan of the World exhibition look at a lantern on loan from the Oriental Museum