Donating Objects

Dorset Museum holds around four million objects.

Our collection has been growing since 1845, but there are still gaps.

We welcome offers of items that have a strong connection to Dorset’s archaeology, history, natural history, art and culture. If you think we may be interested in objects that belong to you, please email or write to us, giving the details set out below and providing images. Please do not bring or send objects directly to the Museum as we will not accept them.

What to include in your email or letter.
  • A description of the object, including its condition and any signs of damage or deterioration
  • Who made or created the object, if relevant
  • The object’s history and any personal stories attached to it
  • Where you got the object from
  • Confirmation that you are the object’s legal owner and would be happy to transfer ownership permanently to Dorset Museum
  • Images of the object
How long does a decision take?

Offers are assessed by our Collections Working Group. This only meets around four times a year, so please do not expect an immediate response. If you believe a decision needs to be made urgently, please outline your reasons in your email or letter.

How do we decide?

Offers are judged against our downloadable Collection Development Policy. We also consider other criteria, such as the condition of the item, whether we already hold similar or duplicate items, and storage and care costs. It is not always possible for us to accept donations, even when they are interesting and valuable.

  • Please note that we do not accept items:
  • On long-term loan, except in unusual cases
  • With specific conditions attached
  • That are hazardous

We are not able to provide valuations of objects.

Deposition of archaeological archives.

The Museum collects archaeological archives and objects from the whole county of Dorset, except the Borough of Poole and the collecting area of the Priest’s House Museum. As the foremost collecting museum in Dorset for archaeology, it will work with archaeological contractors, planning archaeologists, academics and researchers to create archives that are suitable for long-term curation. This includes discussing agreed sampling and retention strategies, which take into account the nature of the existing archaeology collection, as well as the significance of the new material.

It is important that archives deposited at the Museum are prepared in line with our conditions and guidelines. This includes early consultation and cooperation between the excavator and the Museum. There is usually a fee to contribute to the long-term storage and curation of the archive.

From September 2021 archaeologists depositing archives at the Museum will need to follow the rules and regulations outlined in our downloadable Archaeological Deposition Policy.

If you are a potential depositor and wish to send us a notification of fieldwork, or get in touch to discuss the potential deposition of an archaeological archive, please email us.

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    Dorset Museum & Art Gallery
    Daily: 10.00am - 5.00pm

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    Daily: 9.00am - 4.00pm
    Sunday: 10:00am - 4:00pm

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  • Dorset Museum

    High West Street
    Dorchester DT1 1XA

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  • For more information
    [email protected]

Useful Links

Portable Antiquities Scheme.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) is a national scheme to encourage the voluntary recording of archaeological objects found by members of the public and metal-detector users in particular. Details of the scheme and a database of finds can be found on the Portable Antiquities Scheme Website

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Jurassic Coast Trust’s
Fossil Finder.

The Jurassic Coast is world-famous as a place where fantastic fossils are preserved in abundance. The evidence they provide shows how animals and plants evolved in this part of the world during the Mesozoic Era, between 250 and 65 million years ago.

Browse hundreds of fossil specimens found along the Jurassic Coast in the Jurassic Coast Trust’s Fossil Finder database.

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