News: Exciting Year Ahead for Open Treasure Durham Cathedral

Open Treasure, Durham Cathedral’s new £10.7m exhibition space, is set for an exciting first full calendar year in operation. With a range of temporary exhibitions, including a very special Magna Carta display, the Cathedral is aiming to reach bigger audiences than ever before.

On Monday 20 February, following on from the current Textiles: Painting with the Needle exhibition, the collections gallery will be taken over by an array of marvellous, mythical and magical creatures. BEASTS!, an exhibition which uses early manuscripts and printed books to tell the story of creatures which have forever fascinated people, will run until Saturday 10 June. With lions and rhinoceros happily sitting next to griffins and unicorns the displays are sure to capture the imagination.

Following hot in the footsteps of BEASTS! will be a stunning display of Magna Carta and the Forest Charters, opening on Monday 19 June. Durham Cathedral’s three issues of Magna Carta, including the only surviving copy of the 1216 engrossment alongside further issues from 1225 and 1300, will go on display alongside their associated Forest Charters, from 1217, 1225 and 1300.

The Forest Charter, released in 1217, is a complementary charter to the Magna Carta and, in the 800th anniversary of its first appearance, these six documents will be displayed together for the very first time. The Magna Carta continues to be a hugely influential document through to today, and the significance of these charters to Durham and the North of England will be explored.

At 2.00pm every Wednesday afternoon visitors can also find out a little bit more about some of the amazing items and buildings which form Open Treasure in the newly launched series of Ten Minute Talks. With topics ranging from Monastic Life in Durham Cathedral and the imagery on the Ruthwell and Bewcastle Crosses being covered in January, the year promises to cover a huge array of fascinating topics.

Marie-Thérèse Mayne, Open Treasure Exhibitions Officer, said: “The first six months of Open Treasure have been incredible for all involved in the project, and we are looking forward to carrying that momentum into 2017. The range of exhibitions, talks and special events we have already announced cover a wide range of topics, and promise to give an even greater insight into the history of Durham Cathedral and the region.

“And there is more to come - we are working on future exhibitions and events all the time and encourage people to keep an eye out on the website for some very special events throughout the year.”

Later in 2017 the Great Kitchen will transform into a permanent display focusing on the Treasures of St Cuthbert, following a period of environmental monitoring. Visitors will have a chance to see objects found in his tomb when it was opened in 1827, such as fragments of his Anglo-Saxon wooden coffin, embroidered vestments, and the famous pectoral cross of St Cuthbert. For now, visitors can enjoy an awe-inspiring exhibition of church plate and metalwork.

The Collections Gallery programme also continues apace later in 2017 with two more diverse and captivating exhibitions. Making a Joyful Noise! will look at the lively tradition of music at Durham, stretching from the earliest days of the monastery right through to the present day. Following this, Saintly Sisters will explore the lives of some of the female saints associated with the North, from the familiar figures of St Hild and St Birgit to some lesser known ones such as St Ebba and St Everilda.

Tickets to Open Treasure cost £2.50 - £7.50 and are available from the Visitor Desk in the Cathedral, the Open Treasure Welcome Desk, and in advance from

Visitors are encouraged to consult the website when planning a visit as the exhibition spaces will occasionally close to allow for the changeover of exhibitions.

Added Monday 16th January 2017