Contemporary Collecting

As a museum service we collect objects, specimens and artworks from the present as well as the past.  The vast bulk of our collections are historic and allow us to explore the people, culture and environment of the past, but we are also interested in collecting today for the future.  In almost all subject areas we are actively collecting items which reflect contemporary Leeds, art and culture and the natural environment.

Most obviously we collect contemporary art, our art gallery is renowned for a collection of modern British art collected largely at the time the works were made and we continue that through buying new works from contemporary artists or commissioning new work.  Working with organisations like the Contemporary Art Society, Leeds Art Fund  and the Northern Art Prize allows us to identify working artists and work with them to secure new works for the collection.

But it is not just art.  Collecting is a collaborative process, we want to reflect life in contemporary Leeds and we look to the communities of Leeds to help us do that. Our active collecting is  people-focused and includes documenting people’s stories and memories through film, objects and oral histories.  We aim to capture the character of our city, its rich diversity, its varied communities and its industries through objects and stories.

In a similar way we want to continue what was started two hundred years ago when the natural science collections were first assembled.  In our collections we have a rich record of the changing natural world in Leeds and Yorkshire especially, but also further afield. The specimens in the collections and the data they hold can tell us all sorts of things about how animals and plants and the habitats in which they live, have changed. We need to keep this record going, so we actively collect specimens of living species or from geological sites and carefully record the data which go with them.

We can’t do this without your help, so if you think you can, then please get in touch.