Collections based research

If you would like to access our collections to undertake research (e.g. personal, dissertation, post-doc etc) then please send an initial query to our research coordinator Dr David Tosh. This should detail the following information:

  • Who you are and what institution (if applicable) you are associated with;
  • What part of the collection you wish to access;
  • What you would like to do with the collections;
  • The reasons for your research (e.g. undergraduate research, for a book);
  • When you would like to access the collections.

If you provide the above information, our research coordinator will consult with the appropriate staff and advise whether your request can be accommodated.

If we can accommodate your request we will require the researcher to providing further information on the project and ask you to complete a researcher agreement with National Museums.

Please also consider the information below when contacting us:

Our collection databases

As with most museums, digitising our collections is an ongoing process. At present, a small proportion of our collections are available online which can be searched here. We encourage you to search our databases before contacting us. However, if you can’t find what you are looking for then please contact our research coordinator to see if we have material relevant to your study.

Timing of visits to access collections

Any researcher wishing to access our collections should aim to contact the research coordinator a minimum of 4 weeks before the date of the desired visit. This will increase the chances of the curatorial staff, and the space within our stores, being available. Any request made with a shorter lead-in time may lead to National Museums being unable to accommodate your visit.

Our stores are now open to researchers wishing to access the collections. Please note that due to Covid restrictions access will be limited. See here for more details.


All researchers accessing our collections will do so in the knowledge that they will work under National Museums’ policy. Failure to adhere to National Museums NI policy will result in the cancellation of any research agreement.

We encourage all researchers wishing to engage with our collections to be aware of National Museums’ policies relating to research.  Please see our Collections policies and procedures for further information.


If your project requires institutional ethical approval then we will require a copy of approval before granting permission to undertake the work. National Museums will use this as part of their assessment of the ethical implications of the work proposed. For further guidance on the ethical standards to which National Museums NI adheres to please see our Ethics Policy, the Museums Associations code of ethics and the DCMS guidelines for the care of human remains

Destructive sampling

If destructive sampling is required then further details will be requested from the researcher and internal consultation with curatorial and conservation staff will take place before permissions will be given. Destructive sampling can be done at National Museums’s facilities under the supervision of conservation staff but consideration will be given to the loan of material for destructive sampling at your institution. Please include a completed destructive sampling form with any enquiries.

Funding applications

We will consider all requests to utilise our collections as part of funding applications. We require that all requests are received as soon as possible in the development of any application. Failure to consult National Museums at least 4 weeks before any funding deadline will likely result in a rejection of the request. Please contact the research coordinator with all participatory funding related queries.

Provision of funding

Please note we are not in the position to fund external research projects.

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