Reserve collections - find out more
Visitors enjoying a behind the scenes tour on a store open day
Reading Museum cares for over 400,000 objects. Some objects are too fragile for permanent display or are of mainly research interest. Objects in our reserve collections can be viewed by appointment. We also make collections accessible through tours, temporary exhibitions, loan boxes, loans to other museums and online resources.
We have two spaces where you can view reserve collections or background information by appointment with a curator. Please use the Contact Us link on the left of this page and choose 'Collection Enquiries' on the form.
The Study at the Museum
The Study is a quiet area at the Museum for the public to carry out research and other creative projects. You can examine objects from the collection that are not on display, in particular the extensive insect collection which is housed on-site. Microscopes and insect identification guides can be provided with advance notice - please enquire about availability when booking.
Research Room at our off-site store
This space is available for the public to carry out research. Here it is possible to examine objects from the collection which are in storage, including archaeology, botany, ceramics, costume, geology, social history, world cultures and zoology. Visits are invited from anyone - specialists and beginners, scientists and artists alike. Advance booking is essential.
Identifications and enquiries
Museum Surgery is every Thursday from 12pm until 4pm at Reading Museum. This is an opportunity for you to talk to staff about the Museum's collections or to ask for help in identifying your interesting objects. We are unable to give valuations.
Donations and gifts
We are very pleased to receive gifts and offers to donate objects for the collections. However, what we collect and how we go about it follows a strict Collecting or Acquisition Policy. We collect in four areas of art, archaeology, natural history and social history. The curator for each area has the responsibility of ensuring that the collecting criteria are followed including ethical and legal issues. The Museum's Acquisition Group makes the final decision about whether an object or collection may be accepted.
Please contact us using the link on the left of this page if you have an object or collection which you would like to donate - choose 'Collection Enquiries' on the form. Please try and give as much information as possible about the object including what you know about its history and its current condition.
Reading Museum lends objects from its collections for display in exhibitions at other museums throughout the world. We also have a loans box service for our local schools- please see our school pages for further details - and a Memory Box scheme for care homes and hospitals - for more see our Get involved pages.
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