We preserve and care for the material history of Royston and its surrounding district. If you’ve got something that you think would benefit from our care, please read through this page and then get in touch.
We acquire items for two purposes: for our permanent Collection, and for addition to our handling boxes. The below policies apply primarily to our permanent Collection. Occasionally, there are exceptions for our handling set; we’ve noted these.
What do we collect?
Essentially, most things related to Royston and the villages in a 10 mile radius around us. This includes both Herts and Cambs.
We collect material culture objects, including all manner of household items, clothing, and toys, as long as they have distinct ties to Royston & District, or to somebody who lived here. Also, we’ll accept any other type of memorabilia related to the town and area. Along those lines, we have a large ephemera collection, and we’ll accept anything by way of local ephemera (diaries, pamphlets, posters, and photographs) that we don’t already have. If an item is of national (rather than local) significance, we may accept it for our handling collection. Coronation and Jubilee newspapers, for example, fall into this category.
E. Herbert Whydale created numerous paintings and sketches, and we actively seek these out.
In most cases, we can only accept items as gifts to the Museum. Unfortunately, we don’t have the resources to pay you for your artefacts. Occasionally, we will accept an item as a loan, in which case it will be returned to you after a predetermined period of time.
What do we not collect?
We don’t collect any type of human remains, no matter the age or situation. This is because we don’t have the resources to care for them with the propriety and respect that our ancestors deserve. There are other museums in our region who are able to provide this consideration.
We no longer collect any other archaeological artefacts, such as knapped stones, animal remains, and early stone pottery. North Herts Museum Service specialises in these artefacts, and is able to care for them more thoroughly. We occasionally make exceptions for artefacts dated post-1066, so do get in touch if your object falls into that category.
Due to limited space, we no longer collect anything large. Unfortunately, this includes horse carts, ovens, sofas, and houseboats.
We don’t collect items that we already have multiple examples of, no matter the category. So, we might accept a typewriter, but only if we don’t already have that model. Photographs have a similar policy- we’d like to fill gaps in the collection, but we don’t have the resources to care for ten of the same photograph. However, sometimes we will accept duplicates for our handling set.
We don’t always collect records, such as birth certificates and marriage certificates. These are usually accepted by the regional archive service. Check HALS for Hertfordshire, and CAS for Cambridgeshire.
If we aren’t able to collect your artefact, we may be able to suggest a more suitable museum or archive.
What happens when I bring something in?
If you’ve got something you’d like to donate, please call or email us to arrange a time to bring it in. Every acquisition needs to be signed in by the Curator, so if you just drop by, we can’t guarantee you’ll be able to leave your item. This is true for both Collection and Handling artefacts.
The first thing we’ll do is just confirm that you’ve got the right to give us the item. For legal reasons, we need to check that you own the object, or that you’ve got permission of whoever owns it. If the item is owned by someone else, and they aren’t able to come in with you, we’ll need a signed form from them confirming that they’ve given you permission to donate it to us. We’ll also ask where it came from- this lets us know the history of the object, who owned it previously, and what its story is. All of this information lets us build a fascinating story for your artefact! Don’t worry, everything you tell us is subject to our normal data protection policy.
Once we’ve confirmed everything, our Curator will fill out an ‘Object Entry Form’. We’ll describe the object, its history, what condition it’s in, and everything else that we think is relevant. We’ll also let you know at this point if we think it’ll go into our handling collection. Up to this point, you’re welcome to change your mind about your gift. Then, we’ll ask you to check everything is correct, and sign the form with your name, address, and current contact information. By signing the form, you agree to donate the object to the Museum, along with all of its rights and titles. We’ll sign this form as well, and give you a copy.
What happens after I leave?
Once you’ve signed the forms, two different things can happen.
If the object is going into the Permanent Collection, it will be examined thoroughly, and notes made of all relevant attributes. We’ll assign it a number, and enter it into our Accession Register. That number serves as the ‘key’ to all of the records for the object, and is entered into both physical and digital databases. Our volunteers mark the item, using conservation processes, with its number, and then photograph it. At that point, it will either be stored away for future exhibits, or go directly into an exhibit.
If the object is going into Handling, we’ll follow the same steps of examining and noting its condition. However, it won’t be accessioned, and we’ll assign it a Handling Number, rather than an Accession Number. We will still mark, photograph, and enter it into our databases. The only difference is that we aren’t committing to care for it in perpetuity. Instead of going into an exhibit, it’ll be sorted into one of our loan boxes that go to schools and Reminiscence Centres.