The Museum Service holds about a million objects, ranging from moths to a Georgian fire engine, from paintings to prehistoric potsherds. Like any museum, we can’t display everything and some objects are not suitable for showing, although they are useful for research. Our online catalogue, hosted by eHive, contains details of some of the objects that are kept in store.

Modern museums no longer collect everything they may be offered: instead, we have a policy that outlines areas where we are actively seeking to broaden our collections. We also have a rationalisation policy, which helps us to decide which items could be removed from the collections when they are no longer relevant to us. In the first instance, they are offered back to the original donor, then to other Accredited Museums: we do not sell them.

Our current collecting policies recognise that the former Letchworth and Hitchin Museums had very diverse collections that reflected their establishment in 1914 and 1939 respectively. Today, the Museum Service collects items made in/used in/found in/made by people from/or otherwise reflecting the history and culture primarily of the District of North Hertfordshire. Our areas of collecting are:

  1. Archaeology
    We collect material from all periods from the district of North Hertfordshire; under planning legislation, North Hertfordshire Museum is the official repository for archaeological archives generated through the planning process (i.e. developer-funded fieldwork).
  2. Decorative Art
    There is a small collection of 18th–20th century glass and ceramics originally collected by Letchworth Museum. We may occasionally collect items of decorative art that help to tell the story of North Hertfordshire.
  3. Numismatics
    We collect coins found in the North Hertfordshire district, especially English coins and tokens of all periods used by people in the district. We also collect British service and commemorative medals and British orders from people with a link to North Hertfordshire.
  4. Costume and textiles
    We collect women’s, men’s, children’s and infants’ clothes, accessories , jewellery and related ephemera to fill gaps in the collection up to 1980; and from 1980 to establish a contemporary collection. We also collect occupational clothing where it will fill gaps in the collection. We accept foreign costume only when it has a significant association with the district.
  5. Documents
    We generally refer potential donations of documents to Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies. However, we occasionally collect written and printed ephemera relating to businesses and social activities within North Hertfordshire, especially from villages.
  6. Fine Art
    We collect oil paintings, watercolours, drawings, pastels, prints and sculpture representative of artists who have or had a connection with North Hertfordshire as well as depictions of places in the district.
  7. Military items
    We collect items relating to the Hertfordshire Yeomanry and items related to people with a North Hertfordshire connection who have served in the military.
  8. Natural Sciences
    We limit collecting natural history to important local specimens and voucher specimens of local material. The Museum holds the County Herbarium and the botanical collections therefore remains an active area for acquisition of voucher material via the county recorders. We also accept archive material that relates to objects already in the natural history collections.
  9. Pharmacy
    We collect only items related to the Perks and Llewellyn pharmacy.
  10. Photography, film, video and audio
    We collect recordings and images relating to North Hertfordshire, particularly of villages and people that are less well represented. We also accept media reflecting the cultural diversity of the district, its everyday life and trades as well as local and national events and celebrations.
  11. Social History
    We collect objects relating to the towns and villages in the district, their residents and lives not otherwise covered by the archaeology collection.
  12. Ethnography
    There are a few items of ethnography in the collections, but we no longer collect such items.

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