Donate to the collection
The National Railway Museum is part of the Science Museum Group (SMG).
There are still some gaps in our collection – so you might wonder why we don’t just accept donations straight away. The reason is that we need to ensure that your donation is cared for correctly right from the start, and receives the full attention of the curatorial staff.
Our Collections Development Group makes decisions on what we collect. It's made up of curators and other specialist staff, and meets every month to select from the many items offered to the museum as gifts, purchases or loans, choosing only the ones that are most suitable for exhibition or research.
What we're collecting
Our focus now is on collecting objects that reflect the impact railways have made on society, culture and technology – including developing technologies – and to represent key human stories in railway history. We want to explain these objects to visitors of all ages, and make them available to people doing historical research.
We can't display all the objects in the collection, so many are put in storage. They're available for researchers and visitors to look at by appointment, and they may be brought out for gallery displays and temporary exhibitions. Some are loaned to other institutions for their own exhibitions, if they meet the specific criteria required to take care of objects loaned to them.
We can't accept objects with specific conditions attached, or on long-term loan; firearms; or objects containing the following hazardous substances: asbestos, explosives, flammable material, poisons, potentially carcinogenic or radioactive material.
Tax and valuations
If you have questions about the the potential tax implications of a donation, talk to an accountant, solicitor or independent tax adviser. We cannot give valuations.
How to donate
Please do not bring objects into the Museum without having made a prior appointment with the relevant curator. First, send us a letter or an email about your object, and include a photo so we can assess it.
From there, there's a formal approvals process (see our collecting policy), and you also might need to help our curators and registrars by giving them information about the object and where it came from.
National Railway Museum
Don't be offended if we can't accept your object: it might be that we have a similar object already, or it's too big, or something that we don't collect. We can always tell you why we can't accept it, and suggest other museums that might be interested.