Revealing Durham Collections through a Digital Lens

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Library


Revealing Durham collections through a digital lens

Durham University has outstanding and extensive collections, including 4,700m of archives, 70,000 early books and manuscripts, 50,000 museum objects, 6,000 artworks and 4 Designated Collections; and also undertakes management of Durham Cathedral Archives and the archive and library collections at Ushaw College. In aggregate, these are internationally renowned for their quality depth and breadth; and present a huge and rich resource for research, teaching, learning and creativity; attracting students, staff and researchers from around the world. The University has a commitment to making digitised content from its collections freely accessible online wherever possible, for scholars and the wider public.

Heritage and Culture is a key strategic research theme and acknowledged research strength across the University.

The Faculty of Arts and Humanities produces influential research within and across disciplines, languages, and cultures. It is home to eighteen interdisciplinary research centres and engages with communities, groups, and cultural institutions locally, nationally, and internationally. The University's Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies is one of the largest and most diverse concentrations in the world of scholars, curators, students and practitioners studying this period of history. As the academic hub for Durham's UNESCO World Heritage Site it champions a framework for rigorous research, impact, and dissemination, strengthen the global understanding and appreciation of the tangible and intangible heritage of the city.

The Department of Archaeology at Durham is one of the largest in the world. It is the leader in the UK for archaeological research and is highly influential in the fields of conservation, cultural heritage, and museum management. It works closely with curators of collections at Durham and has strategic collaborations with a worldwide network of scholars, institutions and heritage agencies.

Team Pigment is an AHRC-funded multi-disciplinary team undertaking non-invasive elemental and chemical analysis to study the pigments used in the illumination of medieval manuscripts. The project works on Durham's outstanding collections and has collaborated with many other institutions, including the British Library, Bodleian, and Lambeth Palace, working alongside local specialists to answer conservation and research questions.

Upgrading or replacing equipment used across these departments and teams for digitisation of collections, for high resolution surface morphology and for elemental and chemical analysis of manuscripts will enable us to continue and extend our world-renowned digitisation and research programmes.

The co-location of this state-of-the-art equipment at Palace Green library will create a centre of excellence for digitisation and scientific analysis of heritage objects, particularly manuscripts. Equipment, knowledge and expertise will be shared between academics, practitioners (curators, archivists, librarians and conservators) and students. Benefits will extend to researchers visiting on Durham University Residential Research Library Fellowships, and to other partner cultural organisations regionally and nationally. Our focus on portable equipment will enable us to continue and extend collaborative working with partners across the region and nationwide. The technology also enable to make items from our collections accessible to the wider public in new and innovative ways., and to demonstrate and illustrate the methodologies and results of our cutting-edge research.


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