Developing the museum's collection

A gnome from the Museum of Childhood's collection

We’re always looking for ways to develop our museum and keep it relevant to our visitors. Our five year project ‘Exploring Childhoods’, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), aims to expand and increase access to our wonderful collections.

The Exploring Childhoods project is an exciting opportunity to develop the Museum of Childhood's collection. We are one of just 23 museums, libraries and archives to benefit from the second round of the HLF’s £5million Collecting Cultures programme.

The project will focus on collecting objects from the late 20th and early 21st Century, such as games consoles and cult dolls, as well as items that show the more complex and challenging aspects of childhood, including objects from the foster care system and modern premature baby units.

Recreated victorian schoolroom
School bell and the blackboard in the recreated Victorian Schoolroom at The National Trust Museum of Childhood at Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire

We hope that we will be able to source some specific items through donation but we’ll still need to search for and purchase others. This involves conservation work and research as well as creating records and collections research.

Community involvement

To help us achieve this we’ll be getting the community involved and giving staff and volunteers the chance to develop their skills.

A panel, made up of representatives from a range of community groups, will help with decision making and ways to develop our collections. They’ll meet regularly and will make a long-term difference to the collections.

We are a museum of childhood after all so there's nothing more important than childhood itself! We've decided that we're probably best asking the experts, at least six ‘host schools’ will help us decide what new toys we should source. We’ll create an exhibition with them showcasing the new toys and objects we collect along the way.

Engaging with the local community will help the museum reflect all walks of life and represent childhoods through the ages.

There are all kinds of dolls in the museum's collection
A china-headed doll, part of the collection of toys at The National Trust Museum of Childhood at Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire