Acquisitions and Disposals

Aircraft being placed into truck for transport

The Royal Air Force Museum collects and safeguards objects for the benefit of different generations who have donated/continue to donate artefacts for present and future use, engagement and enjoyment. The continuing development of the collection enables people to explore the RAF story for learning and inspiration. 

There is a delicate balance to be found between safeguarding objects and the necessity to review and develop collections in order to keep them relevant. This is done through acquisition and, in some cases, through disposal.

Collection Review


The Museum has begun an ongoing Collections Review designed to take a critical look at the Collection to ensure it is developed in line with the Museum's strategic plans so it can improve the public's understanding of the RAF story.

The Review will ensure that each part of the Collection is carefully evaluated in order to make the collection more focussed.

During the Review a range of Museum professionals, forming a Collections Review Committee, will assess the Collection and determine how it should be developed for the future. They will propose specific key acquisitions and they may recommend that some objects are disposed of. In addition the Review will enable staff to consider present and future Collection conservation and preservation needs.

Throughout the Collections Review there will be periods of consultation where the Museum will be obtaining external expert advice, consulting with stakeholders and providing information to individuals and groups internally and externally with an interest in specific proposed acquisitions and disposals.

The priorities for the disposal of objects are that they are done for sound curatorial reasons and for the future retention of artefacts within the public domain. The terms of the Collections Review are outlined in the Museum's Collections Review Policy and supported by the principles of the Acquisition and Disposals Policy. The primary purpose of these policies is to assist the Board of Trustees to ensure acquisitions and disposals are carried out for the public benefit and to comply with the professional standards of the Museum sector:

Disposal outcomes

The priority for any disposal is the continued retention of the artefact(s) selected within the public domain, wherever possible. The potential outcomes for disposal are: 

  • Free gift/transfer to another museum
  • Exchange of objects between museums
  • Free gift/transfer to another institution/organisation within the public domain
  • Return to donor
  • Sale (only in extraordinary circumstances once the options above have been explored and  following consultation with donors, stakeholders and the museum community)
  • Destruction (only when an object is deteriorated beyond any future use or needs to be disposed of for reasons of Health & Safety)

List of Disposals

Once a decision to dispose of objects from the Collection has been reached, a list of those objects will be uploaded to this page and to the Museums Association's Find an Object web page.