Scholarship, connoisseurship and interest in institutional, business and family history have flourished in York for centuries and have resulted in a vast number of public and private collections that contain useful information for those seeking knowledge of York. Some of these, particularly those held by businesses and institutions, are often available by arrangement for limited public access. Many of the earlier collections are already in public archives or galleries such as the Borthwick Institute for Historical Research or the City of York Art Gallery.

In addition to these there are a substantial number of private collections of documents, artworks and artefacts to which the public does not normally have access except by invitation of their owners. From time to time, too, such objects appear in the salerooms, giving the opportunity for public and private collections relevant to York knowledge to be supplemented and enhanced.

In York, where so much documentary and artefact material is gathered together there is also a concentration of expertise about its care. There are specialist curators with deep knowledge in a wide range of fields. York has a number of laboratories, often of national or international reputation, with experience of conservation procedures. In addition there are scholars with a broad range of connoisseurship skills.

This section lists some of the more important public or semi-public collections or institutions which hold such collections. It also lists some of the sources of specialist knowledge available in York on matters of curatorship and conservation and points to how connoisseurship advice may be accessed through York Civic Trust. It lists some main auction houses where items relevant to York Knowledge are occasionally sold.

Private collections, of their nature, cannot be publicly listed but the York Civic Trust is always glad to know of their existence, if necessary in confidence, and is willing to advise on how their integrity may be maintained and their future care and maintenance and availability for posterity may be assured.

Collections or institutions holding collections or archives relevant to York Knowledge.

Bar Convent
Bootham School
Borthwick Institute
City Archives
York City Art Gallery
Fairfax House
Mansion House
Merchant Adventurers’ Hall
Merchant Taylors Company
York Minster Library
National Railway Museum
NestlĂ© Archive – for more information email
Rowntree Society
St Peter’s School, York
The Mount School, York
Treasurer’s House
York Castle Museum
Yorkshire Museum
British History Online includes the Victoria County History of York and of the Ridings.

Specialist knowledge, advice or services

York Archaeological Trust Conservation Laboratory (Archaeological artefacts)

Borthwick Institute Conservation Laboratory (Documents) follow this link and go to the Preservation Policy PDF at the bottom of this page. Alternatively contact Amanda Jones at

York Consortium for Conservation and Craftsmanship

(The membership list includes specialist craftsmen and conservators for a number of artefact types and for art objects)

National Centre for Early Music
The NCEM, which is in York, has a specialist archive about the York Mystery Plays.

Curatorship advice is usually available from the main museums, galleries, archives and libraries, or from York Civic Trust on 01904 655543 or, on archaeological objects, from York Archaeological Trust.

Auction houses and salerooms which sometimes carry objects relevant to York collections:
Boulton and Cooper Fine Art, Malton
David Duggleby Ltd, Scarborough
Dee, Atkinson and Harrison, Driffield
Stephenson and Son, Murton (York Auction Centre)
Tennants, Leyburn

Catalogues of York Collections
Oil Paintings in Public Ownership: North Yorkshire (Public Catalogue Foundation)

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