About the Collection database online

The Museum’s entire digitised database to date can be found here. New records and images are being added every week. When complete the database will contain a record of every object in the Museum collection, with associated conservation and scientific reports where available.

The information is made available in its entirety. Only prices paid, personal addresses and the names of some individual Museum staff have been withheld.

About these records

The database is an inventory of the Museum’s collection and aims to record what is known about it. It is primarily designed to support curatorial and research work, and much of the text is specialised in nature and terminology.

The database is the result of 35 years work but is still in its early stages. We are continuing every day to improve the information recorded in it and changes are being fed through on a regular basis. In many cases it does not yet represent the best available knowledge about the objects. This is being added as fast as possible, but will take many years.

Information held on it, therefore, needs to be read with care. There may be mistakes and omissions and in some cases British Museum staff may not have checked an entry. In many cases they will have more information that they will add in the future.

Users are invited to use the feedback link on each record to help us improve the information.


If you wish to cite any of the records in this database, please use the following format:

<Author>, <“object registration number”>, www.britishmuseum.org/collection. British Museum, <Date last modified>.Online. <Access date>.

For example:

British Museum Collection Database.  “RPK,p146B.1” www.britishmuseum.org/collection, British Museum, last modified 23/01/2010. Online. Accessed 22/03/2010.

To cite conservation or scientific records, please use:

<Author(s)>, <Title>, <report identifier number>, Department of Conservation and Scientific Research, British Museum (year) (unpublished), URL (Accessed on <date>)

Sponsors and donors

The British Museum thanks the following people and bodies for financial help towards the cost of constructing this database:

  • Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto
  • Richard Aylmer
  • The Birgit Skiold Foundation
  • The British Institute of Persian Studies
  • The late Dennis Cole
  • Mr Gifford Combs
  • Peter and Faith Coolidge
  • The Gilbert & Ildiko Butler Family Foundation
  • The Gould Foundation, New York
  • Janine Luke in memory of Melvin R. Seiden
  • The Joseph F. McCrindle Foundation
  • The London Topographical Society
  • Marc Fitch Fund
  • Leon Levy Foundation
  • Molly Lowell and David Borthwick
  • The Mercers’ Charitable Foundation
  • The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
  • An anonymous gift in memory of Ruth Popper
  • Dr John Rassweiler
  • Sir Peter Roth
  • Dr John Rassweiler
  • The Sir Percival David Foundation Academic and Research Fund
  • The Pilgrim Trust
  • The late Aydua Scott-Elliott
  • Harry Walker
  • Tabor Foundation
  • Dave and Reba Williams
  • Mrs Charles Wrightsman

The Museum also acknowledges with gratitude the work on the database by many volunteers giving their time and expertise.

The digitisation of information and the construction of the underlying conservation and science database was supported by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The British Museum depends on further support to develop and improve the collection database.

If you have an interest in a particular area, and wish to help us to improve it, please contact the British Museum Development Department on +44 (0)20 7323 8194.

Make a donation online 

Images in the database

New images are being added to the database and  made available here at the rate of about 2,000 each week.

Images of some objects have been withheld for copyright reasons.

Artists’ copyright lasts throughout their lifetimes and for 70 years from the date of death. We have made every effort not to infringe copyright, and only to display works in copyright if we have permission from artists or their estates. If we have made a mistake, please tell us and we will remove the image(s) from the site immediately.

If you wish to use an image from this site on another website, please see our Terms of Use.

Most images are available to order free of charge for non-commercial use through the individual object pages. There is also a facility, on the same pages, to commission new photography or order an image for commercial use, or of a larger file size.

Conservation and Science records in the database

Information in the reports held on this database needs to be read with care. The reports were originally produced for internal purposes only, and were generally produced to address very specific issues. Much of the text is therefore specialised in nature and terminology.

It has not been possible to check every record prior to its release, therefore there may be mistakes and omissions.

The Museum does not endorse any of the equipment or products recorded here and it should be noted that any information about product formulations or health and safety advice given may no longer be current.

Attempts have been made to check these records, and every effort has been made to seek permission to reproduce all data, images, and personal information published here. However, if any material has inadvertently been included for which permission has not been granted, please contact conservation@britishmuseum.org or science@britishmuseum.org.


Many of these records report work that was undertaken some years ago and the methods and materials described may not reflect current British Museum knowledge or practice.


These records were produced at different stages of the development of scientific understanding, instrumental accuracy and subtlety of interpretation and therefore they may not reflect current knowledge or practice. Analytical work undertaken today might not yield the same results or conclusions.

Criteria for public release of science records

The British Museum is committed to making its records of treatment, examination and analysis publicly accessible online. All science records are therefore being made available unless they fall into one or more of these categories:

  • Data associated with objects examined under the Treasure Act 1996 and its predecessors or the Portable Antiquities Scheme
  • Data associated with material in private ownership or collections other than that of the British Museum
  • For a period of five years after they are received, data generated by external researcher(s) – More information
  • Data associated with material examined in relation to acquisition, valuation or authenticity questions
  • Projects that are incomplete and where existing material is not interpretable without further work.
  • Projects that are subject to a duty of confidence
  • Reports containing information some of which may be otherwise exempt from disclosure under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act.


Image: Michelangelo, a nude young man, to front, looking to right, beckoning