The Collection

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Collection highlights

Browse some of our favourite pieces from our extensive collection of art and artefacts

History of the collection

The story of the Holburne Museum and its collections from 1882 to the present day

Caring for the collection

One of the Holburne's main purposes is to preserve the things that have been entrusted to our care

Library and Archive

As well as its important collection of fine and decorative art, The Holburne Museum also holds about 4000 books

At the heart of the Holburne Museum is the collection of Sir William Holburne (1793-1874), fifth baronet of Menstrie. William seemed destined for a naval career but, following the death of his elder brother Francis, he inherited the family title and a modest fortune. He left the navy and embarked on an eighteen-month Grand Tour of Europe, visiting Italy, the Alps and the Netherlands. This sparked a life-long interest in art and his enthusiasm for collecting. He particularly loved bronze sculptures, silver, porcelain and Dutch landscapes.

Sir William never married. He lived with his growing collection and his three unmarried sisters on the North side of Bath. It was his wish that his collection be left to the City of Bath for everyone to enjoy. Since his death, more than 2,000 items have been added to his collection including portrait miniatures, porcelain, embroideries and portraits by some of the greatest artists of the eighteenth century.

Search the Collection

You can explore some of the Holburne Museum’s collection of around 9,000 objects by searching by keyword below, or exploring our themed highlights on our ever-growing Collections Online site.

News about the Collection

New: Beautiful Miniature Portrait by John Smart on Display

The Holburne is delighted to have received on long-term loan an outstanding private collection of miniatures and preparatory drawings by the artist John Smart (1740-1811). Smart was arguably the most talented miniaturist among his contemporaries, who included Richard Cosway, Richard Crosse,...

Meissen Porcelain Bourdaloue

Conservation of the Collection: Meissen Porcelain bourdaloue ‘Aux Plaisirs des Dames’ – for the lady’s pleasure Following a fascinating conservation project one of the most unusual items in Sir William Holburne’s collection, a bourdaloue, or lady’s chamberpot, will go on...