About the Collection database online

The British Museum’s Collection Online offers everyone unparalleled access to objects in the collection. This innovative database is one of the earliest and most extensive online museum search platforms in the world.

Please note that the collection database may be unavailable if work is being undertaken. As of 21 July 2017, content is not being added to our online collections database while we conduct extensive upgrades. When the new systems are turned on all additional material catalogued during that time will be available.

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, Department of Conservation and Scientific Research, British Museum (year) (unpublished), URL (Accessed on 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
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council
  • Richard Aylmer
  • The Birgit Skiold Foundation
  • The British Institute of Persian Studies
  • The late Dennis Cole
  • Mr Gifford Combs
  • Peter and Faith Coolidge
  • Christopher and Missi Eimer
  • The Gilbert & Ildiko Butler Family Foundation
  • The Gould Foundation, New York
  • The Joseph F. McCrindle Foundation
  • Leon Levy Foundation
  • The London Topographical Society
  • Molly Lowell and David Borthwick
  • Janine Luke in memory of Melvin R. Seiden  
  • Marc Fitch Fund
  • The Mercers’ Charitable Foundation
  • The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
  • The Pilgrim Trust  
  • An anonymous gift in memory of Ruth Popper
  • Dr John Rassweiler
  • Sir Peter Roth
  • The late Aydua Scott-Elliott
  • The Sir Percival David Foundation Academic and Research Fund
  • Tabor Foundation
  • Harry Walker
  • Graeme Ward
  • 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

Data from conservation and scientific research activities are no longer displayed as part of the Object Details page on the current version of Collection Online. This data will be made available to external users again at a future date. If you have any queries on these data, please contact conservation@britishmuseum.org.

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