What We Are Collecting

Current collecting priorities

It has always been a priority to collect material from contemporary conflicts and wars. At our foundation in 1917 we collected material from the battlefields of the Western Front. Our current War Story project captures service experiences from Afghanistan.

  • We continue to commission artists and photographers to respond to and record conflict.
  • We hold the national record of officially produced photographs and film.

Our Acquisition and Disposal Policy decides what we can collect and outlines our priorities. You may like to read about the objects we have acquired recently.

Historical areas we want to develop

There are historical areas in which the Collections are less strong, and we welcome offers of relevant material:

  • The causes and aftermath of the First World War, including Britain in the early 1920s.
  • Life during the Cold War.
  • Britain and Ireland from the Easter Uprising through to the Troubles, and notably the War of Independence and the Civil War.

We have a strong interest in material with personal connections

  • Unofficial photographs and film, such as home movies and photo albums. As we already have much of the official photography and film we do not need copies of this material.
  • Objects, equipments, possessions and mementos with stories and, in particular, groups of items linked by individuals or events.
  • Original artworks that reflect unusual experiences or viewpoints that are not already covered in the collection.
  • Private papers, diaries, journals.
  • Unpublished unit histories covering global forces. Also, published personal experiences from UK and Commonwealth. We are especially interested in recent material but accept material covering all conflicts.
  • Illustrative ephemeral literature such as programmes, song sheets, printed greetings cards, propaganda.
  • Unusual magazines and periodical runs, including trench magazines and unit newspapers that we do not already have.
  • Current published research.
  • We have an active programme to interview witnesses and veterans and would welcome nominations.

If you are thinking of offering material please read the guidance first.

If you are interested in exhibiting material at the museum, please read our guidance about exhibition proposals.

We do not collect

  • First and Second World War maps (unless extremely unusual).
  • Press-cuttings.
  • Technical drawings except as reference materials for objects in the collection.
  • Foreign-language material (in general – important unit histories or rare contemporary works exempted).
  • American PEs from Second World War and Vietnam (unless exceptional).
  • Modern school text books.
  • Personal training notebooks or training manuals.