The IWM collection consists of approximately 800,000 items, including photographs, objects, film and audio. Our collections search allows you to explore this collection and to view digitised items online.

We have created this How To guide to help you get the best out of your collections search experience. Watch the films or read through the guide to pick up helpful hints and tips, as well as some inspiration for your next search.

Using Collections Search

Using Collections Search

Top up your knowledge of IWM's online Collections Search function and how to organise the results. 

Selecting Categories

Selecting Categories

Find out how to use categories to filter your results. 

Using More Filters

Using More Filters

Explore the additional filters available to further refine your results. 

How To Guide

When you next arrive at the IWM homepage, navigate to the Collections Search by selecting Our Collections from the menu.

Our collection includes a wide range of materials:

  • Art
  • Documents
  • Photographs
  • Film
  • Objects
  • Sound
  • Books
  • IWM Administrative Archives

Find out more about each of these departments at Our Collections


When your search loads, your results will include every item in our collection related to your search term. 

To narrow your results down, there are three sets of filters available. The main filter categories are 'Object Category' and 'Related Period'. 

Object Category includes filters such as photographs, sound and art, as well as object types including equipment, souvenirs and ephemera, and uniforms and insignia.

Related Period allows you to filter by time period, including the two world wars.

The search will deliver results that are relevant to all your selected filters. For example, selecting both 'sound' and 'equipment' from the Object Category filters is unlikely to return any results. Likewise, selecting both 'First World War' and 'Second World War' from the Related Period filters will only return results that are relevant to both wars. 

The third set of filters are accessed by clicking the 'Show more filters' option. But we'll come on to those later!

The additional filters available allow you to further refine your search.

The options include:

  • Creator - Useful when searching our art collection for a particular artist
  • Licensing - Find out which of our items you can license, or use on your website (please see our licensing information)
  • Part of... - View items that belong to particular collections, such as photographs from the Ministry of Information Second World War Official Collection
  • On display - A great filter that allows you to view the items on display in each of our branches

Not all of the items in our collection are digitised and available to view online. These items appear as 'No media available online' in your search results. 

To filter these items out of your search, open the 'Show more filters' option and make a selection from the Media Format filter. 

This will filter out any non-digitised items. 

Search Suggestions

  • Search today's date

    Try searching for a specific date to see all the items tagged with that day.  

  • Search 'mascot'

    Military mascots, both official and unofficial, have been common in the British armed forces for centuries. 

  • Search 'embroidered'

    Embroidery is a craft that spans our entire collection and brings up a varied and interesting set of results, including everything from wartime textiles to Apollo mission badges.