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Collections

Our mission

Walsall Museum Service exists to culturally enrich the lives of Walsall people, and to foster pride in the town and the achievements of local people, past and present.

We seek to make the Borough’s heritage accessible through entertaining, inspiring and informative exhibitions, publications and lifelong learning events and activity sessions, engaging as diverse a range of audiences as possible.

Pride in our past, pride in our future: through a better understanding of the past we believe people will be able to make more informed decisions about the future, and become more fully engaged citizens.

Visit www.blackcountryhistory.org to view our searchable online catalogue

History of the collections

The collections of Walsall Museum Service originated with the Free Library, which was collecting sporadically for at least fifteen years before the Art Gallery and Museum opened in 1892.  The focus was on curiosities, such as natural history specimens and articles from overseas cultures.

During the 1960s and 1970s the museum collections were reorganised to create a focus on the social and industrial history of the area.  Many objects which did not fit within these criteria were transferred to more appropriate institutions.  The social history collection and the art collection were administered separately from 1976, although the institution continued to be known as Walsall Museum and Art Gallery.

In 1988 a large number of objects representing the history of the leather industry were taken out of the social history collection and removed to the newly-founded Walsall Leather Museum.

In 2000, the museum and the art gallery separated physically.  The art collection was removed to a permanent home at the New Art Gallery, and the social history and costume collections remained at Walsall Museum.

At one time Walsall Museum Service comprised Walsall Museum, Walsall Leather Museum, Willenhall Town Museum, Birchills Canal Museum, and the Jerome K. Jerome Birthplace Museum.  Between 2003 and 2008 Birchills Canal Museum, the Jerome K. Jerome Birthplace Museum, and Willenhall Town Museum were closed.  In 2015 Walsall Museum was closed.  The collections from these museums were put into secure storage.

All permanent collections are owned by Walsall Council and are now administered by Walsall Leather Museum.