This is where you can find answers to Frequently Asked Questions about our collections. Find out more about how to identify your objects, donate objects, access our collections, enquire about use of images and contact the collections team.

Can you identify an object for me?

We have a Museum Surgery every Thursday from 12 noon until 4 pm. Just drop-in 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.  Find out more on the museum what’s on pages

Do you accept donation/gifts to the collection?

We welcome offers to the collection, and we collect in four areas of art, archaeology, natural history and social history. However what we collect follows a policy - known as the Collection Development Policy (download below).

The Museum's Acquisition Group makes the final decision about whether an object is to be accepted in line with the policy’s strict collecting criteria including geographical, ethical and legal issues.

If you wish to offer us an object, please contact us. Try and give us as much information as possible about the object including what you know about its history and its current condition.

Can I make an appointment to see an item that is not on display?

We care for almost 500,000 objects. Some are too fragile for permanent display or are of mainly research interest. You can view highlights on our online collections website. Objects in our reserve collections can be viewed by appointment in advance, please contact us to arrange an appointment.

What research facilities do you have?

We have two spaces where you can view reserve collections or background information by appointment with a curator. The Study is a quiet area at the Museum for the public to carry out research and other creative projects. Here 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. The Research Room at our offsite store is also available to examine objects from the collection which are not on display, including archaeology, botany, ceramics, costume, geology, social history, world cultures and zoology. Visits are invited from anyone - specialists and beginners, scientists and artists alike. Please contact us to arrange an appointment.

If you are a student planning to use our collections as part of your dissertation or PhD, please contact us well in advance to ensure we can support you.

Do you have collection volunteer roles and students placements?

We offer collection-based voluntary opportunities. Find out more on the volunteering webpage.

Do you lend objects?

We have a loans box service for our local schools and a Memory Box scheme for care homes and hospitals. We also lend objects from our collections for display in exhibitions at other museums; please contact us if you have a request.

Do you accept archaeological archives?

We collect archaeological archives from within the Reading Borough boundary following the Museum’s Collection Development Policy. Our Acquisition Group makes the final decision about which archaeological archives are accepted. All archaeological archives must be prepared following our Archaeological Archive procedures (see the download below). Please contact us if you would like to deposit an archaeological archive.

Can I get an image?

We have thousands of images we can license from our collections, including Reading’s unique copy of the Bayeux Tapestry. Our Image Enquiry page has more information.

Can I take photographs in the Museum galleries?

Still photography is allowed, without flash or tripod and for personal enjoyment and use only, except where signs show otherwise. Photography is usually not allowed in the John Madejski Art Gallery. For full details and conditions please download our photography policy below.