The Museums Service cares for more than 100,000 art, design and craft objects in order to fulfil three specific aims:
As a whole these fulfil the mission statement of the museums service which is to enhance the cultural experience of the people of Hampshire and visitors to its constituent museums and specialist collections on exhibition and in reserve access.
Art history is a well established museum discipline, and the decorative arts presented in the manner of the Victoria and Albert Museum have a long history, and have included historic dress and textiles since the 1960s.
Although today there are many other opportunities and media whereby people may gain knowledge about, and enjoy the visual arts, museums remain an important way for people to interact with 'the real thing'. Our collection illustrates the enormous variety of ceramics and textiles, and to a lesser extent other decorative arts, that have been desirable and increasingly available to local people over the last four centuries, and how they have worked at both a functional and an aesthetic level.
For practical, organisational, logistical, conservation and keepership purposes the collections are currently divided into three distinct groups:
In addition a collection of Dolls, Toys and Games designated The Childhood Collection in the late 1980s and recently reclassified in part as Social History, is still part-managed by the Art section. Conversely the Trainor Collection, accessioned as Social History has a clear cross-discipline role as part of the Art and Design archive.
Many important items in the Art and Design collections have been acquired with the assistance of national grant-making bodies. In particular, Hampshire County Council Museums & Arts Service wishes to thank the