Collections Hub

The new Collections Hub will enable us to conserve, research and share our stored collections with visitors for the first time, providing a welcome in and a springboard out to our communities, fostering local pride and belonging.

The RAF Museum looks after a large stored collection including around 55,000 objects representing every aspect of RAF life from across its 100-year plus history. These objects are held on two non-public sites which currently prevents public visits and restricts staff and volunteer working.

Sharing the collection

We will use the Hub and our stored collections to engage people in intergenerational opportunities to develop new skills and ideas. Having easy access to our stored collections will enable our staff, volunteers and partners to use objects to inspire participants in learning sessions and community activities on site and across the Midlands. One of the first uses for the Hub will be as the venue for our work with a team of volunteers recruited to prepare objects for our new exhibition and, in future, it will support regular display refreshes.

We will also open the Hub for a regular programme of volunteer-led tours for visitors and use digital technology to share our collection across the site and online – enabling access for everyone.

Caring for the collection

The new facilities will be developed to museum collection care standards with our environmental aspirations informing the design, providing stable conditions throughout and specialist environments for parts of the collection such as clothing. Digital technology such as barcoding linked to our collections database will deliver more effective collection management and connections to our Collections Online resource.

The Hub will be built adjacent to and joining with the existing award-winning Michael Beetham Conservation Centre (MBCC). Here a team of Museum technicians, apprentices and over 50 dedicated volunteers use engineering and technical skills that were once widespread, but which are now disappearing, to look after our objects.

This unique environment ensures essential skills are passed on to the next generation, preparing them for work in engineering roles in both heritage and cutting edge engineering companies.

Bringing our stored collections to the Hub will enable better care in future with objects either being conserved in the MBCC or in the Hub itself. Having the collections on a public site will enable us to increase opportunities for volunteering in conservation, object research, digitisation and management, with a focus on increasing digital literacy and confidence.