Object Donations

Object Donations

Our acquisition programme is currently closed which means we are unable to accept object donations. We will be continuing to keep this under review so please check this page for any updates in the future.

The collections managed by York Museums Trust (YMT) have their origins in the 17th century. Private and civic collections held within the city began to amass as intellectual curiosity and interest in archaeology, art, history and natural sciences increased across North Yorkshire. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries these collections came together within a number of York-based organisations. The collections of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society (YPS) and York Corporation (now City of York Council) were exhibited within three institutions: The Yorkshire Museum and the Yorkshire Museum Gardens (YM and YMG), York Art Gallery (YAG), and York Castle Museum (YCM).

The collections of all three institutions grew in size and stature under the ownership of City of York Council (CYC). The combined collections of CYC gained designated status in 1997. York Museums Trust was founded in 2002 to manage the museum buildings, gardens and collections on behalf of City of York Council.


Donating Objects to the Collection

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. We aim to let donors know the outcome of their offers within a 3 month period.


Please be aware that:

  • We don’t usually accept objects on long term loan.
  • We can’t accept objects that represent a potential hazard unless there is a compelling reason to do so. Hazardous items include objects containing asbestos, explosive, flammable, poisonous, potentially carcinogenic or radioactive material.
  • We cannot accept objects that pose a threat to our existing collection (i.e. items with pest infestations).
  • Large objects or collections that may create storage issues will be considered on a case by case basis.
  • Objects should be brought to the museum by appointment only. Please do not send material through the post unless this has been agreed with a curator.
  • When you make an appointment for us to view objects, please only bring the objects you have already discussed with us, and no additional items.
  • We cannot give advice on items for sale or provide valuations. We also cannot authenticate objects.

Unsolicited objects for donation

  • Unsolicited objects for donation are objects that have been left at or posted to one of our sites without prior discussion and agreement with the curators. Unsolicited objects are not accepted. York Museums Trust will do its best to contact the donors of unsolicited offers in order for them to collect their objects. Should objects remain uncollected for four months, or if no contact details are left, absolute ownership will be transferred to the Trust who may dispose of objects as it sees fit.


Please click on one of the subject areas below for more information about what we collect;

  • Archaeology – for example metal detected objects and objects that have been found which are usually older than about 300 years and relate to the history of York and the wider region.
  • Science – for example fossils, taxidermy and rocks.
  • Costume and Textiles – for example clothing, shoes and fashion accessories, and domestic textiles such as rugs and quilts.
  • Art – for example paintings and drawings, ceramics and sculpture
  • Money and Medals – for example coins, tokens, banknotes and military and civilian medals
  • History – for example military objects and objects relating to the personal and working life of people and businesses in the local area.


What happens next?

Curators will look at the object you wish to donate and take your offer for consideration at a Collections Meeting. These meetings occur once a month and are made up of a panel of curators from all subject areas and the registrars. At this meeting a decision to accept or decline your offer will be made. The decision will be made on the basis of our Collections Development Policy which states what York Museums Trust collects and why. You will be notified of the decision by the relevant curator and, if accepted, collection or deposit of your object will be arranged. You will be asked to sign an Entry Form, legally transferring ownership of the object to York Museums Trust.

If your object is not accepted we will, where possible, direct you to another institution that may be interested.

We collect material for research, learning and display. This means that even if you don’t see your donation on display it has been carefully recorded and is accessible by appointment.