Collections search

You can explore a catalogue of over 600,000 items in our collections here - pretty much everything in our databases in fact. There are items from aircraft down to shoes, photographs and art, weapons and toys, films, interviews and music, posters and letters, books from the library and records in the museum's own archives. Almost 90,000 of them have digitised images, sound or video that you can see and hear right here.

How to search

Use the search box above to get started and then narrow down your results by using the filters that will appear on the left, which change according to the results of your search. You can add lots of them together to make a very precise search. The "Media" filter is helpful for finding things you can look at, listen to or watch online, and the "Category" filter is a rough way of grouping our collections by the type of thing they are. Some filters can have many more options than we can show on screen, so it's a good idea to start with a tight enough search. But if you want to start with everything, you can.

Mostly if you add another filter the results will things that satisfy all of the conditions, but if you add two options from the same filter - for instance, two subject periods - we will look for things that are linked to either period (rather than both). Some of the filters only apply to particular areas of the collection so it's worth experimenting to see what works.

Collection-level records

In some parts of our collections, the records are often at group level. This is frequently the case for photographs and archives (letters etc.) although often there will be items in these groups that also have their own record. Both the "collection" and the items within that collection could be returned by a search. When you look at a record for a collection (e.g. here), it will tell you a bit about it and link to a listing, which is also linked from the individual items. You can filter the listing just like search results - helpful if it has 5000 photos in it!