Kirklees Museums and Galleries service cares for a large and varied collection or artefacts, historical treasures and curiosities which have developed over more than 100 years of collecting.

You can see some of these amazing artefacts on display in Tolson Museum, Bagshaw Museum, Oakwell Hall and Huddersfield Art Gallery. We also have displays in other local buildings, including Huddersfield Train Station and Dewsbury Town Hall.

Collections highlights

The collections in Kirklees have developed from many different institutions. The first museums in the area reflected the local towns' proud ambitions, collecting world-wide to build up collections of great aesthetic value, academic research potential and popular interest that cover both the natural world and human endeavours. We continue to collect material that helps us to tell stories of the public and personal lives of the people within the area now covered by the Kirklees boundary.

Some of the most important and popular collections include:

Bamforth and Co

The pioneering company that began as a photographers, dominated the magic lantern market before moving into saucy seaside postcards. Kirklees owns the largest and most extensive collection of original Bamforth material.

Egyptology

The towns of Dewsbury and Batley were sponsors of various excavations to Egypt in the early 20th Century and Kirklees now has an impressive collection of Egyptian material.

Modern and Contemporary Art

Collaboration with the Contemporary Art Society over many years has helped us develop a small but world class collection of fine art.

Natural history

The Kirklees area was very active in the development of various natural history societies in the 19th century and we have extensive and important collections including insects, birds and geology.

Archaeology

Our geographical position means the local area has long been an important trade route and stopping off point for travellers. This is most clearly shown by the important collections from Slack Roman fort Outlane, Huddersfield.

Access to collections

The collections of Kirklees Museums and Galleries are held by the service in trust for the general public. It is our policy to enable access to collections and information about collections, whilst ensuring the collections are preserved and kept safe for future generations.

This can be time consuming and from time to time it may be necessary to reduce our full enquiry service to enable our curators to focus on important projects.

Some of our collections can be viewed online:

Kirklees image archive

Over 60,000 images covering 170 years of photography in the Kirklees area.

Art UK

The combined collections of art from 3,200 British institutions including Kirklees' complete art and sculpture collection.

West Yorkshire textile heritage

Highlights of the collections relating to textiles and the textile industry from Kirklees, Wakefield, Leeds, Calderdale and Bradford museums.

Minim

Some items from our collection of musical instruments and objects that make noise are included on this site, which houses the largest online collection of historical musical instruments in the UK.

Tolson's best

The top ten most important and popular objects on display in Tolson Memorial Museum.

Oakwell hall tour

A photographic tour of the Elizabethan manor house showing some of the furniture and other fittings.

Women's Suffrage in Kirklees

In April 2018 we opened a new exhibition at Tolson Museum to celebrate the centenary of (some) women gaining the right to vote in parliamentary elections. We found so much interesting information that we couldn't fit it all into the exhibition. Instead, we've created this website for you to explore with information from newspapers, our collection and biographies of the women involved.

Political history of Kirklees

A volunteer project documenting the role of politics in local communities during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Includes objects from the collection.

Collections development policy

If you want to know more about our collections and what we collect, please see our collections development policy. It gives more detail about the history of the collections, how we look after them and what we collect.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the collections, if you would like to donate something or to see something in store please contact us. Please note that out curatorial team is small and all staff are part time. We will try and respond quickly but at busy times it may take a little while for us to get back to you. On occasion, it may be necessary to reduce our full enquiry service to enable our curators to focus on important projects.

Kirklees Museums and Galleries are an Arts Council England Accredited museum service, and members of the Museum Association.