Introducing our remarkable collections

We look after one of the world's largest and most significant holdings of fine art and heritage objects – a treasure chest of history. With over 200 collections, 144 of which are accredited museums, no other organisation conserves such a range of heritage locations with buildings, contents, gardens and settings intact, nor provides such extensive public access.

Our places, our collections, our museums

Many of the works of art, furniture and other objects in our collections were commissioned, acquired and accumulated by past owners over many centuries, as contemporary furnishings and as dazzling displays.

Oak and cedar cabinet with ivory veneer, 1650-1660 / Ham House NT 1139080
Oak and cedar cabinet with ivory veneer, Ham House
Oak and cedar cabinet with ivory veneer, 1650-1660 / Ham House NT 1139080

We look after one in 12 of all the accredited museums in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We also look after several discrete museum collections, including, but not limited to the Carriage Museum at Arlington Court, Devon, the National Trust Museum of Childhood at Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire and the Fox Talbot Museum, Lacock, Wiltshire.

Travelling chariot, early 1800s, part of the National Trust's Carriage Museum collection at Arlington Court, Devon
Travelling Chariot
Travelling chariot, early 1800s, part of the National Trust's Carriage Museum collection at Arlington Court, Devon

Every object tells a story

Our collections offer you the chance to uncover a broad spectrum of social, political, scientific and industrial histories. The lives and occupations of former inhabitants of our places are quietly evoked, illuminated by their surviving personal treasures.

Frequently these were conscious creations - personal statements of taste, patronage, lineage and social status. High fashion, design and superb craftsmanship were the order of the day.

But not all places are grand treasure houses. Many are small and not at all ostentatious, with deep personal associations, sometimes with an individual writer, politician, architect, poet or composer.

Virginia Woolf's glasses in her writing room at Monk's House, East Sussex
Virginia Woolf glasses in her writing room at Monk's House, East Sussex
Virginia Woolf's glasses in her writing room at Monk's House, East Sussex

Many historic libraries also survive remarkably intact, conjuring a special atmosphere of personal study and reflection. They range from those of wealthy collectors to those formed with more practical and provincial ambitions. Some were formed by literary giants, such as the writers Rudyard Kipling and George Bernard Shaw.

A global story

Works of art and objects originate from many times and places, across the globe.

Zuni earthenware polychrome painted water-jar (‘Olla’), made by the A’shiwi (Zuni) Tribe, Zuni Pueblo, Western New Mexico, c.1870–80.
Zuni earthenware water jar
Zuni earthenware polychrome painted water-jar (‘Olla’), made by the A’shiwi (Zuni) Tribe, Zuni Pueblo, Western New Mexico, c.1870–80.

Archaeological sites in Britain tell stories that are thousands of years old, through surviving artefacts, structures and landscape features.

Something for everyone

Special collections, displays and ever-changing exhibitions can now be enjoyed at more places, inviting discovery of the full extent of our holdings.

Visitors enjoying Rembrandt's Self-portrait wearing a feathered bonnet, 1635 / Buckland Abbey NT 810136
Visitors enjoying Rembrandt selfie at Buckland Abbey
Visitors enjoying Rembrandt's Self-portrait wearing a feathered bonnet, 1635 / Buckland Abbey NT 810136

With close to a million objects – with internationally significant collections of paintings, furniture, ceramics, books, tapestries and more  – there is no shortage of choice.

More to discover