Durham police said two men and a woman from the West Midlands area have been arrested in connection with the Thursday night theft, but the items have not yet been recovered.
The northern England-based university confirmed that two “priceless” artefacts were stolen when thieves broke into a ground-floor gallery at the museum: A large jade bowl with a Chinese poem written inside that dates back to 1769, and a Dehua porcelain sculpture.
“We are extremely upset to have fallen victim to such a serious crime,” said Craig Barclay, the museum’s curator, in a statement.
“The two pieces are highly significant in that they are fine examples of artefacts from the Qing Dynasty.”
Police said in a statement that they are still trying to locate “several outstanding suspects”. The museum will be closed until further notice, the university said.