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Collections

Our Collections

Peterborough Museum holds a wide ranging collection amassed over 130 years. Many objects have national and international importance, such as the Jurassic marine reptiles, and finds from Prehistoric and Roman Peterborough.

Some objects have remarkable stories behind them, for example the Napoleonic craftwork made by prisoners of war at Norman Cross. You can also find out about Peterborough’s development and the daily life of Peterborough's people, both past and present, through the Social History collection.

Explore select items from our collections and find out about making donation, loan and research enquiries bellow.

Collections Online

Peterborough museum is committed to sharing information about the collections as widely as possible, and will be working on getting our approx. 200,000 objects searchable on line as soon as we can.

You can follow our progress by visiting the new Online Collections portal now. Looking for a collection that isn't online yet? visit our Using the Collections page.

The Collections

Geology

Collected locally from Jurassic Oxford Clay beds, these marine reptile fossils are of international importance and include unique specimens of Ichthyosaurs, Pliosaurs and Plesiosaurs. We also have a specimen of the largest fish that ever lived – Leedsichthys – and many other fossils that lived in the Jurassic seas, including long-extinct ammonites and belemnites.

As well as the Jurassic collection, the museum has a large and diverse geology collection containing fossils, rocks and minerals both from the local area and nationwide. Our Ice Age collection features the remains of creatures that lived during the last ice age, including woolly mammoths, giant reindeer, and even a hippopotamus.

Archaeology

Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery has a large collection of local archaeological finds which reflect human occupation of the area since the earliest times. The period spans the Old Stone Age (Palaeolithic), over 200,000 years ago and includes the Bronze & Iron Ages as well as Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Medieval. The archaeological collection and archive is still growing as new building development uncovers further remains around the Peterborough area.

Notable amongst the collections are finds from the prehistoric settlements at Fengate, Nene Valley Ware from the local Roman pottery industries, finds from a local Roman Villa at Durobrivae and fine grave goods from Anglo-Saxon burials, including a hanging bowl.

Natural History

The collection consists of largely entomology, and mounted birds and mammals, along with small collections of herbarium (including fungi), molluscs and birds eggs. There are approximately 300 birds in the collection which are mainly British with a few foreign birds. The entomology collections represent the most significant holdings of natural history in terms of numbers and scientific importance. The majority being Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), with a coleopteran (beetles) collection. The museum also have a small osteology collections mostly of mammal bones which is primarily used for education.

Norman Cross

The Prison Camp at Norman Cross, near Peterborough, was constructed during the Napoleonic Wars between 1797 and 1815 to hold French and Dutch prisoners of war.

The Norman Cross collection at Peterborough Museum is considered both the largest and finest collection of such items in the world, the museum displays objects of carved bone, wood and ivory, including model ships, guillotines, needlework boxes, playing cards and articles of straw marquetry.

Art

The collection contains an interesting variety of art dating from the 1600s to the present day. Among the highlights of the collection are landscape paintings by Van Huysum, the well known Dutch flower painter, ‘View of Port St Denis’ by Sickert, the leading British Impressionist painter., and the Ealand Warwick Bequest, a collection of works by top British artists from the 1960’s. There are many paintings, prints and drawings with a Peterborough connection including watercolours of Peterborough Cathedral by J M W Turner and David Cox.

Portraits and landscapes selected from the permanent art collection are usually on display around the museum.

Social History

Our wide and varied social history collection offers a glimpse, and a better understanding, of everyday life for people at different times in history.

Collections cover everything from costumes from 1600 onwards, coins and medals, military equipment, Victorian household items, folk life, ceramics and glass, and photographs of the area as well as children’s toys, tobacco pipes, farming tools, Staffordshire pottery and English drinking vessels

Collections Services

Using the Collections

Peterborough Museum & Art Gallery has an ever growing collection of archaeological and cultural objects discovered professionally, by hobbyists and through donations. On request the Museum can provide access to the collections for academic and personal research purposes. For More information on using our collections, making a donation, loan enquiries, collections care advice, or to view our policies, visit our Using the Collections page.

Archaeological Archives

Peterborough Museum & Art Gallery is the repository for Archaeological archives generated within the area administered by Peterborough City Council.

Professional and community organisations performing fieldwork within the PMAG collecting area, or that will be depositing with us must follow the guidance outlined in our Archaeological Archive Standards document.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS)

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is a national programme which assists with the recording of archaeological finds discovered by members of the public. The scheme aims to help finders have their objects identified and recorded, as well as providing specialist advice on conservation and storage. The finds are recorded centrally on a national database, which can be accessed over the Internet. To learn more about the services provided at Peterborough Museum visit finds identification services (PAS)

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Touring exhibition: Extinction

Extinction affects us all and one in ten of our wildlife in the UK is critically endangered. Scientists have identified five periods of mass extinction over the geological record and the question is now being asked: are we in a sixth? This exhibition addresses this fascinating topic and journeys through the demise of the dinosaurs and marine reptiles, death of the ice age mammoths and the impact of humans on the dodo.

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