The decorative art collection contains ceramics, glass, furniture, costume and textiles, silver and contemporary craft. It also includes one of the most extensive collections of the historically important Plymouth and Bristol porcelain and a wide selection from other British and European factories and makers, including the work of Dorothy Doughty, Bernard Moore and the Martin Brothers.
A substantial collection of nearly 5,000 pieces, including Plymouth and Bristol porcelain, Chinese porcelain, through to 20th century art pottery.
The silver collection comprises of local, civic silver from the 18th to the 20th century, including the presentation ‘freedom boxes’ given to Lady and Viscount Astor in 1959 and 1936 respectively.
The museum holds a small collection of glass, mainly comprising of tablewares from the 18th and 19th centuries. It also includes a pair of 17th century green goblets, 18th century snuff bottles and 20th century art nouveau pieces.
These works by Stephen Newell and Carole Rolfe were on display in the museum, but you can still listen to this accompanying audio guide which gives a taste of our glass collection.
Costume and textiles
The collection comprises of some 3,000 items of costume and textiles from a 17th century Spitalfields silk dress to a 1940s Gieves and Hawkes naval uniform worn during the Normandy landings. It also includes a substantial collection of lace, including, representations of the local Honiton and Branscombe trades, shoes and hats as well as costume accessories, including, ivory card cases and jet jewellery.
Costume accessories collection
Due to the fragile nature of costume and textiles, it is often difficult to display these objects. Why not explore our costume accessories online? Browse through a selection of accessories from bags, shoes and hats to fans and parasols.
Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery is committed to supporting and developing local makers and craft practices. Our collection includes contemporary craft items such as ceramics by Caitlin Jenkins and Pauline Zelinski, woodwork by Valerie Pragnell and Anthony Bryant and glass by Stephen Newell and Carole Rolfe.
We also commission works by contemporary makers, such as Clare Twomey, for our permanent collections.
For a taster of this collection, you can listen to our curator of decorative art discuss what we mean by craft, and why this area is so renowned for craft, in the audio guide below.