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Helen Armstrong 

Collections Database Manager 



Helen is the Collections Database Manager within the MGE team. Working with colleagues, she contributes to the management and development of the University’s museum collections management systems and procedures, with a particular emphasis upon the core collections discovery system and museum systems and repositories.   


Helen has developed her expertise in collections management throughout her working life across a range of collections. Beginning her career working with industrial archaeology collections at the National Waterways Museum, she was involved in documenting and moving collections into two newly set up stores. Moving on to the V&A in London, she worked across the collections to train and support staff in collections management software and procedures, as well as undertaking collection audits and developing expertise in thesauri and ontologies.  

Helen joined Durham University in 2005 and has worked across all aspects of collections management, including managing and delivering programmes of preventative and remedial conservation; registrar work such as preparing and organising loans in and out, couriering and supporting couriers; supporting the documentation, interpretation and exhibition of collections and the development and delivery of a rolling programme of gallery improvements, exhibitions and events; maintaining and developing all museums collections management systems to ensure that they meet all relevant external standards, including SPECTRUM, Accreditation and Designation. 

Recently, her role has changed focus to work more closely on digital systems . In this new role, she has begun to prepare for the implementation of new collections management systems integrating digital ways of working into the everyday processes of the collections. 

Helen is a graduate of Cambridge and Newcastle Universities and holds MAs in Classics and Museum Studies, the AMA, and an NVQ Level 4 in Volunteer Management. 

Helen is also involved in the development and delivery of undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and research at Durham University, working on courses and supervising student research across a range of subject areas including museum studies, visual arts and culture. She recently gained fellowship of the HEA and a PGCLTHE. 

Research interests 

  • Thesauri and ontologies 
  • Good practice in collections care 


Barclay, C., Grocke R. & Armstrong H, editors (2010) Treasures of The Oriental Museum Durham University.  London: Third Millenium Publishing Ltd, 159 pp. 

Armstrong, H. & Grocke, R. (2010)  Egypt, Durham and Japan. Ancient Egypt, 11: p.26-29. 

Chapters in Books   

Barclay, R., Barnes, L., Ramsay, G., Barclay, C. & Armstrong, H., “‘Found in Store’: Working with Source Communities and Difficult Objects at Durham University’s Oriental Museum” in Bryant Davies, R. & Johnson-Williams, E.G. (eds.), Intersectional Encounters in the 19thC Archive: New Essays on Power and Discourse (Bloomsbury Academic, London, 2022)   

Recent conference presentations: 

Barcodes: A conservation perspective; Axiell EU Users conference 2016 

Digitisation: Why aren’t we all doing the same thing?; Axiell EU Users conference 2018 

Membership of Professional Bodies: 

  • Museums Association 
  • UK Registrars Group 
  • University Museums Group 
  • Museums Computer Group