Museums & Books

Museums and books are the most useful way to properly identify and reference figures. Here we list museums with Staffordshire figure collections, though they may not always be on public display. Often it is possible to contact the museum directly and arrange a study visit to see specific objects out of their display cabinets or storage units, but be aware that staff are extremely busy. It is always best to be patient and make contact well in advance of any preferred visiting dates. 

Where publicly accessible, we include direct links to online collections of Staffordshire figures. Due to museums’ ongoing cataloguing and website updates some online collections will be under maintenance.

In the library you will find details of many useful directories and reference books. Most of these are out of print, so we are not able to link to a guaranteed seller. However there are online booksellers for secondhand books, including Abebooks, ebay and WOB (World of Books). We give the UK links here but all have international websites. Sometimes the best place to find a book on Staffordshire figures is on the shelves of antique centres, secondhand bookshops and charity or goodwill shops.

UK Museums

British Museum, London, UK

The first national public museum of the world with eight million objects representing the extraordinary diversity of human culture.

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK

The Fitzwilliam Museum is the principal museum of the University of Cambridge. The museum cares for a vast and varied collection of objects, ranging from ancient antiquities to applied arts, pottery, porcelain and the arts of the present day.

Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester

Manchester Art Gallery was initiated in 1823 by artists, as an educational institution to ensure that the city and all its people grow with creativity, imagination, health and productivity.

Royal Museums Greenwich, London

Royal Museums Greenwich comprises the Royal Observatory, Cutty Sark, National Maritime Museum and Queen’s House. The museums also house The Prince Philip Maritime Collections Centre and the Caird Library and Archive. Together the museums hold over 2.5 million items, dedicated to enriching people’s understanding of the sea, the exploration of space, and Britain’s role in world history.

Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust, Brighton

If you want to enjoy a few days on the coast of England, then Brighton is a wonderful destination. After snooping around the antique centre and boutiques on the Lanes, we recommend a visit to Brighton Museum to see The Willett Gallery. Henry Willett collected over 2000 ceramic items dating mainly from the Georgian and Victorian periods and his popular pottery collection includes early Staffordshire.

Saffron Walden Museum, Saffron Walden

The museum’s ceramics and glass collection features almost 2500 items of British and European pottery, porcelain and glass, including eighteenth-century Staffordshire figures.  These are on display in the Ceramics and Glass gallery. Many more objects are kept in storage and can be viewed by appointment.

Research visits

If you would like to view objects in the stored collections, you can contact the museum to make an appointment. This may take place at the museum or at a purpose-built museum store, also located in Saffron Walden.

Tel: +44 (0)1799 510333Email: museum@uttlesford.gov.uk

The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, UK

If you are in the north east of England then The Bowes Museum is not to be missed. The vision of a pioneering woman, Joséphine Bowes and her husband John, the museum holds a sizable collection of paintings, ceramics and textiles, including Staffordshire figures. The collection online archive is searchable and separate to the main museum website.

The Dudson Museum, Stoke-on-Trent

Very few pottery museums specific to the production of one company still remain, and Dudson is one of the most significant. Uniquely, the museum is housed in an atmospheric Grade ll listed bottle oven. The diverse and extensive collection of Dudson pottery spans three centuries and is displayed on two floors, with exhibits ranging from Staffordshire figures to Jasperware and hotel-ware.

The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent, UK

The finest collection of Staffordshire ceramics in the world including items from the Minton Museum sale is held in Stoke-on-Trent, in the heart of Staffordshire. Over 5,000 pieces are on display in the galleries, which explain the history of manufacture and design in the pottery industry. The online catalogues hold over one million objects.

V&A, London, UK

The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art and design, housing a permanent collection of over 2.3 million objects that span over 5,000 years of human creativity.

Ceramic Study Room, Level 6, V&A, South Kensington

You can request a study visit to the Ceramic Study Room to look at specific items which will be removed from their display cases by museum curators. Sometimes it is also possible to see items that are not on display. 

Access is by appointment only.

Tel: +44( 0)20 7942 2317 (Western ceramics)

Email: ceramicsstudyroom@vam.ac.uk

US Museums

Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit

The Detroit Institute of Arts has one of the largest and most significant art collections in the United States. With more than 65,000 artworks that date from the earliest civilisations to the present, the museum offers an encounter with human creativity from all over the world.

Long Beach Museum of Art

Within the holdings of the Long Beach Museum of Art, The Gift of the Estate of Dr. and Mrs. Leslie Dornfeld includes over one hundred Staffordshire ceramics which came to the museum in 2005. Leslie Dornfeld and his Italian-born wife Maria Grazia were passionate collectors of English figurative ceramics and The Dornfeld Collection is one of the museum’s major attractions.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The Metropolitan Museum of Art presents over 5,000 years of art from around the world for everyone to experience and enjoy. The Museum lives in two iconic sites in New York City – The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters. Millions of people also take part in The Met experience online.

The Mint Museum

The Decorative Arts Collection at the Mint numbers over 12,500 objects, and includes fine furniture, silver, and glass. Its greatest strength, however, is in the field of ceramics. The museum has significant holdings in wares from England and continental Europe, as well as notable examples of American art pottery and Asian porcelain. The Mint also boasts the largest public collection of North Carolina ceramics in the country.

Online collections website under construction.

Winterthur Museum, Winterthur

Winterthur is the principal museum of American decorative arts, with a collection of nearly 90,000 objects made or used in America since 1640. The collection is displayed in a magnificent 175-room house, home of the museum’s founder Henry Francis du Pont and has hosted The Antiques Roadshow.

Membership

We warmly welcome new members.

Wherever you are in the world, whether you are an experienced collector, a researcher interested in the folk art of England, or just someone who is intrigued by Staffordshire figures, please join us for £45 / $50 per year per household.