Our newest gallery is now open, transforming the ground floor of the Oriental Museum.
Silk Roads is an introductory gallery for the whole Museum, bringing together works from across our collections to tell stories of trade, travel and exchange across the continent of Asia and into Europe, all the way to Durham.
Silk, ceramics and spices have travelled these trade routes for centuries. At the same time, these trading connections have allowed people to exchange knowledge, learn about other faiths and experience new artistic styles.
Make sure you don’t miss:
the magnificent Chinese bed decorated with ivory inlaid panels
the parrot made from rock crystal
the detailed scale model of a Kuwaiti dhow, a trading ship from the Arabian Gulf
the 14th century Central Asian jade.
Talking about faith
Members of the local Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities have helped us to shape the gallery by offering new understandings of objects and identifying gaps in our collection.
Participants also created video content for the gallery, providing unique and personal insights into their own faith. You can see a selection of the videos here
These videos are supported by subtitles in English, but do not have BSL interpretation. Click on the link for the written transcript for each video.
We are keen to hear from people who are interested in helping us to develop our family activities and events programme based on the faiths of the Silk Roads. Please contact us at email@example.com.
In 2019 the Oriental Museum established Creative Age, a dementia-friendly art group for older adults. The group works alongside a professional artist on a range of creative works inspired by the Museum’s collections.
In summer 2021 this group created a new artwork, entitled Journey, in collaboration with North East artist Marián Hernández-Villada. It is a celebration of restarting in-person Creative Age sessions and the reopening of the Oriental Museum following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Inspired by the colours and textures of the Silk Road, the piece speaks to the relief and happiness of being able to see friends and family and the extraordinary journey we all lived through in 2020 and 2021. It is now on display in the Silk Roads gallery.
All the museum's staff offer heartfelt thanks to Jean, Chris, Brian, Judith, Keith, Catherine, Marián and all the members of Creative Age.
Our Learning and Engagement team have worked with a range of young people, supporting them to achieve an Arts Award inspired by the themes of this gallery.