Our curatorial teams have a great deal of expertise about the varied collections at York Museums Trust.

Curatorial Enquiries

Temporary Closure

During the coronavirus crisis, York Museums Trust is continuing to follow government advice and the safety and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and visitors are of the utmost importance. 

In line with the latest guidelines, York Castle Museum, York Art Gallery and the Yorkshire Museum will be closed until further notice. Our loans programme is also closed at this time. 

Under the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme, our staff are on furlough leave from 1 April to 30 June 2020. If you have already requested a loan, please be aware that our work on this is currently on holdwe will be in touch after 1 July. New requests will not be acknowledged or considered until after this date, which, as we work to a minimum six month lead period for requests, means we are unable to accommodate any loans required before January 2021. 

Our curatorial teams have a great deal of expertise about the varied collections at York Museums Trust, which include the following areas:

• Archaeology
• Biology
• Costume and textiles
• Decorative arts
• Fine art
• Geology
• Horticulture
• Military history
• Numismatics
• Social history

Please visit our online collections page to learn more about our collections.

If you wish to know more about an object in the collection or wish to access the collections for research purposes then please email [email protected], providing as much information as possible about the object and the nature of your query. Alternatively you can call us on 01904 687687.

We also offer an enquiries and identification service for your objects. We have expertise in the areas outlined above. If you would like us to identify your object then please email [email protected] or call 01904 687687 to make an appointment. Please provide as much information about the object as you can including, if possible, a detailed description, a photograph, and the exact location where it was found or bought.

We cannot give advice on items for sale or provide valuations. We also cannot authenticate objects.

The curatorial departments are very busy and may not be able to reply immediately. We will respond as soon as possible acknowledging your enquiry within a month, and will provide a full service within a two month period.

Due to the differing nature of the Trust’s collections and museums, detailed instructions for each area of the collection can be found below:

 

Exhibition Loans

If you would like to borrow one of our objects or paintings for an exhibition or for other uses, you will need to request permission. We will need details from you about why you wish to borrow the item and if permission is granted, we ask that you comply with certain conditions.

Click here to read our Conditions for Loaning Objects from the Collections.

To make a request, please email [email protected]. Most of our loans are to other museums and galleries and we expect the public to be able to benefit from our collections. Please note that we may need up to six months notice because of the time required to arrange for conservation work, photography, insurance and transport.

 

Archaeology

Based at the Yorkshire Museum, our archaeology collection of nearly one million objects ranges from the earliest prehistoric finds up until the twentieth century and is the one of the most comprehensive in a regional British museum outside London. To make a general enquiry about our archaeology collections, please call 01904 687687 or email [email protected].

If you require information on or identification of an object(s), please email [email protected] with as much detail as possible and, ideally, good quality photographs of the item(s) you would like us to identify.

If you are interested in undertaking research on our collections, please email [email protected] with as much detail as possible on the object(s) to which you would like to access.

 

Numismatics

The Yorkshire Museum has a vast and varied collection of coins, more information on which can be found on our website here. To make a general enquiry about our numismatics collections, please call 01904 687687 or email [email protected].

If you require information on or identification of an object(s), please email [email protected] with as much detail as possible and, ideally, good quality photographs of the item(s) you would like us to identify.

If you are interested in undertaking research on our collections, please email [email protected] with as much detail as possible on the object(s) to which you would like to access.

 

Portable Antiquities Scheme

Potential objects of treasure, as defined by the Treasure Act 1996, must be reported to the coroner within 14 days of discovery. Our Finds Liaison Officer based at the Yorkshire Museum can advise and facilitate the reporting of treasure.

Treasure is defined as:

• Objects over 300 years of age and comprised of more than 10% precious metal (gold or silver)
• Coin hoards
• Modified precious metal coins
• Prehistoric metal hoards.

Recently found material with accurate provenance information may be referred to the Finds Liaison Officer of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (www.finds.org.uk). This scheme aims to record archaeological objects found by members of the public onto a national open access database.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) runs finds identification days throughout the year at the Yorkshire Museum – click here for the PAS Finds Days, which will run from 10am to 1pm.

Given the demand, material left as a Portable Antiquities Scheme enquiry, excluding potential treasure, will be available for collection in a maximum of four months, although the timescale may be shorter dependent upon workloads.

Should you require further information on the PAS department at York Museums Trust please call 01904 687687 or email [email protected].

 

Decorative and Fine Art

York Art Gallery has particular strengths in post-medieval painting in Western Europe, late 19th century and early 20th century British illustrations plus topographical prints and watercolours of York.

In addition the collection also has a small number of Japanese prints and British sculpture. We also have curatorial expertise in British studio ceramics and English glass of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Images and information on oil paintings in the collection are available on the artuk.org website here.

Please make an appointment if you would like to view items in the collection that are not on display. Fine Art appointments are on the first and third Friday of each month and ceramics on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month.

For research requests please fill in an Information for Researchers Form.

Further information for researchers can be downloaded here.

For loans and enquiries please fill in an Enquiry Form.

Should you require any further information, please call 01904 687687 or email [email protected].

 

Social History, Military History and Costume and Textiles

We have an extensive collection at York Castle Museum, which includes social history, military history and costume and textiles. To make a general enquiry about our collections, please call 01904 687687 or email [email protected].

If you would like us to help identify an object for you, please email [email protected] with clear and detailed photographs and as much information as you have.

If you are interested in undertaking research using our collections, please email [email protected] stating the nature of the research, and specifying which objects you would like access to.

 

Biology and Geology (Natural Sciences)

Our Biology and Geology collections cover a huge range of specimens, fossils, rocks, and other historic objects, spanning the whole of geological time through to the present day, and focused on Yorkshire. We welcome enquiries on our own collections, and will identify/assist with queries on other objects related to the areas outlined above.

We will not normally assist with objects from outside Yorkshire, or those which have been privately purchased. In the event that we do not have appropriate in-house expertise for your particular query, we will endeavour to give details of other sources that may be helpful.

In the first instance, please email [email protected] including as much detail as possible, and good quality photographs of any item you would like us to identify. We may ask you to bring the item in, and leave it with us for up to a month, so that we can examine it.

If you are interested in undertaking research on our collections, please email us with as much detail as possible on the object(s) to which you would like to access. Please note, loans for research or sampling require six months notice, so please bear this in mind when planning your research.

Further information for researchers can be downloaded here.

 

Horticultural

The living collection in the garden contains over 1,500 plant varieties. You can find more information on the collection as well as the history of the gardens on our website here.

We welcome enquiries about the garden collection and will assist with queries related to the history and development of York Museum Gardens. Unfortunately we are unable to assist with general horticultural queries. If you would like to contact us, please email [email protected] or call 01904 687687.