Our collections

Across the service we are responsible for the care and display of collections of local, regional, national and international importance. The range of collections means that we can use a selection of artefacts, archives and records that give strength and depth to the stories and themes we cover in our displays, exhibitions and resources.

Plymouth and West Devon Record Office

Plymouth and West Devon Record Office is the archive repository for the city and West Devon with collections dating back to the 12th century. The archives it holds range from parish registers, educational records, coroner’s records, court and prison records through to large photographic collections.

Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery

There are over 1 million artefacts within the Museum and Art Gallery collections. Whilst the former Museum and Art Gallery building is closed for development of The Box, some of the collections are on display through our Collections on Tour and Museum on Tour programmes, at council buildings and other historic sites. These collections span a wide range from fine art, decorative art, archaeology, world cultures, social history, natural history and local and maritime history.

Highlights include the Cottonian Collection, which is an outstanding art collection assembled by Charles Rogers FRS FSA (1711 to 1784) which presents a fascinating glimpse into the achievements of an 18th century English connoisseur. We look after the largest collection of oil paintings in the Southwest and the nationally significant minerals collections.

South West Image Bank (SWIB)

SWIB is a photographic archive managed by Plymouth Museums Galleries Archives. The collection contains over 200 individual collections and close to one million negatives dating back to 1870s.

From August 2018, SWIB’s collections are no longer available to access on site due to ongoing work to prepare collections for relocation to The Box. Once open, the public will be able to see the collections throughout The Box galleries and search them in the Cottonian research room.

Film Archives at The Box

The Box holds the official regional film and moving image archive for the South West of England. The collections include the libraries of the ex-ITV franchise Westward Television and Television South West (TSW). The archive also cares for donated amateur and professional moving image dating from the early 1890s. The film archive is recognised as one of the UK’s most significant screen heritage collections.

Alongside the acquisition and preservation of film, providing access is a key activity. This is achieved locally through public talks, screenings and other community based projects. Our film is accessible online thanks to our partnership work with the British Film Institute (BFI) on BFI Player for the Britain in Film project. The Box works with a wide range of individuals, networks and organisations to further develop opportunities with film.

The film collections are not available to access on site due to ongoing work to prepare collections for relocation and display in The Box. In the meantime, you can view hundreds of our films on BFI Player!