After over 100 years of collecting and with over 33 million items in our collections IWM must consider additions to our collections very carefully.
Objects accepted into IWM's collections are documented, preserved and cared for to the highest standards. We do not accept every offer we receive.
Any objects accepted into our care must represent a meaningful addition to the collections by providing insights into the human experience of war and conflict and the impact it has had on people’s lives.
How IWM considers offers of donations to the collections
Our collecting decisions are influenced by various factors. IWM's Collections Development Policy outlines the type of material IWM accepts into our collections and our areas of focus for shaping them. Each collections department also has its own priorities to build their collections.
Some areas of the collections are already very well developed and we try not to acquire duplicates.
We have to use our space and resources wisely.
We cannot acquire material where current ownership is unknown or might be disputed.
We need to assess the condition of objects and any potential hazards.
We will not acquire hazardous or licensed items (e.g. gas masks containing asbestos, compasses with radioactive dials) without very careful consideration.
Offer an object to IWM
IWM welcomes offers of historic material. Public generosity has helped to grow IWM's collections since our foundation in 1917.
However, as we receive many offers of donations, we cannot reply to all of them individually.
If you do not hear from us within a month of contact, please assume that your offer has not been accepted and we will not be adding the material to our collections.
Donations by post or in person
IWM does not accept offers of objects brought in, or sent to our branches.
If you bring an object to IWM you will be asked to take it home with you. It is your property and your responsibility.
If you post an object to IWM, it will be returned to you by post. We have a legal responsibility to return your property to you.
We will dispose of objects posted to us without a return address
Ownership is only transferred to IWM if we formally accept an object. Sending and bringing objects to our branches takes time and resources away from looking after our collections.
Please only send or bring an object to IWM if one of our curators has already agreed to accept it into our collections.