Our collections enquiries service is currently closed until February 2021. This means that we are unable to respond to requests for information, images and object identifications or facilitate any research access.
Please contact us again in February when we hope to be able to respond to your enquiry.
Our curatorial teams have a great deal of expertise about the varied collections at York Museums Trust, which include the following areas:
• Costume and textiles
• Decorative arts
• Fine art
• Military history
• 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 call us on 01904 687687 providing as much information as possible about the object and the nature of your query.
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 call 01904 687687 to make an appointment. Please provide as much information about the object as you can including, if possible, a detailed description, 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:
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.
To make a request, please us on 01904 687687. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 call 01904 687687, 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.
Further information for researchers can be downloaded here.
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 call 01904 687687.
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