Thinking of donating an item to the collection? Find out more here.

National Museums Scotland Collecting Strategy

The Museum cares for over 12 million collection items built up over more than two centuries of collecting and we continue to welcome and value offers of donations to the collection. However we are unable to accept everything that is offered to us. We need to know more about the item(s) so that we can assess their suitability for the collection.

How to offer an object to our collections

  • Please use our online object donation form to tell us about the material you would like to offer.
  • Provide us with as much information as possible about the objects themselves and how you acquired them.
  • We will assess your offer and contact you if we are interested.
  • Objects from American donors may be eligible for favourable tax treatment in the US. Please note your interest on the Object Donation Form and we can provide further details.

Object donation form

Our collecting decisions are influenced by various factors including:

  • We have particular themes and priorities for collecting, as detailed in our Collections Development Strategy.
  • We cannot acquire material where current ownership is unknown or could be disputed.
  • Items are not commonly accepted with specific conditions attached.
  • The Museum does not typically accept items on long-term loan.
  • Unless there are compelling and legitimate reasons, items containing hazardous materials are not accepted (for example, firearms, asbestos containing objects, explosive, poisonous, radioactive material).

If your donation is suitable for the collection, is in good condition with good title, we will accept it for the collection.

  • In some circumstances your donation may be more appropriate for work with educational groups and, with your permission, it would not be accessioned but would form part of our valued "handling" collection.
  • It may be that for a number of reasons we cannot accept your offer. Please do not be offended. It could be that we already have a similar item in the collection or it is an item that we do not collect, although another museum might. Our staff will be able to advise you in this case.

Please note we aim to respond to all offers within one month.

If your donation is accepted into the collection

If your donation is accepted, it will be available for research, study and educational purposes. However please be aware that it may not be displayed for some time. Exhibitions and displays are carefully planned, often years in advance. Meanwhile, your donation will be carefully stored for study and research work and may be drawn upon for special exhibitions or lent to other institutions for exhibition.

Valuation and Identification Services

In line with the ethical codes defined by International Council of Museums (ICOM) and the Museums Association we cannot provide valuations for collection items. 

While we do not offer a formal object identification service, our collections teams may be able to help identify objects which fall within our fields of expertise. Enquiries may be sent to the Departmental Administrator for the relevant curatorial department.

Treasure Trove in Scotland

The Treasure Trove system in Scotland is provided by the Treasure Trove Unit (TTU) which operates as an independent unit. The TTU is responsible for the daily running of the Treasure Trove system and is the first port of call for new discoveries and finders.

Their contact details are:

Treasure Trove Unit
National Museums of Scotland
Chambers Street
Edinburgh EH1 1JF

Telephone: 0131 247 4355
Email: info@treasuretrovescotland.co.uk

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