The Curatorial Team look after all the items in our wide-ranging collection, from photographs and slides, through ceramics and textiles all the way up to large boats.
They manage loans to and from the museum and facilitate research, and put on the fascinating displays and exhibitions that our visitors enjoy. Find out more about specific curatorial services that we provide below.
Donating to the Museum
Our collection is founded on generous donations by members of the public.
Thank you for thinking of donating an object to the River & Rowing Museum. We are always very grateful for offers and have benefitted greatly from donations by the Museum’s many friends and supporters.
Donated items are recorded, preserved and cared for to the highest standards. However, this comes at a high cost, forcing us to be selective about what we can accept into our collection of over 35,000 objects. Any new donations must represent a meaningful addition to our collections.
If you are considering donating an item to the museum, please download and review the document below, and read the following sections of this page about donations.
We currently have a pause on accepting any new donations, while we undertake a full review of our collections and update our Collections Development Policy.
This is a multi-year project which is allowing us to individually audit and condition check over 35,000 items, ranging from our largest boats to our smallest coins.
This means that if you think you have an object that you would like to donate to us, we will not be in a position to make a decision on whether we want to accept it for some time. If you are happy to wait, please send a detailed description and photograph of your object for our consideration, and we will return to you with our decision when possible. Full guidance and the contact form can be found below.
Please ensure your object is of relevance to our core themes. These are:
– The International sport of rowing
– The history of Henley-on-Thames
– The story of the River Thames
– The classic children’s book The Wind in the Willows
– The Modern British artist John Piper
The Do’s and Do-Not’s of donating:
- Send us a detailed description: what it is, significant dates, who made it, any markings, annotations or inscriptions, any visible damage, and the full dimensions.
- Send us detailed photographs: show the item in full as well as any relevant detail shots. Please make sure these are clear and of the highest quality you can provide.
- Send us Provenance Information: How did you acquire the item? Where did it come from, and who were its previous owners? Please also confirm that you are the current owner of the item (and/or provide the details of the current owner). It is our policy not to accept donations for items that have unclear ownership.
- Send us the object’s history: Please share any personal stories or memories associated with the item, and as much information as you can share about how the object was used/displayed, or any of the relevant people associated with it.
- Understand your object’s copyright: When donating objects to us, we greatly appreciate when you are also able to transfer copyright to us. We recommend researching how copyright works before contacting us so that you are informed on whether this is relevant to your object.
- Send us your object without arranging this with us beforehand: we cannot accept objects left with us without prior arrangement. If an object is left with us or abandoned we will have to begin a lengthy process of trying to return it to you, and will not consider it for our collection.
- Offer us an object for ‘permanent loan’: It is our policy to only accept loans of objects for either short- or long-term loan (up to a period of 5 years). At the end of your loan agreement, we will either return your object to you or negotiate a loan renewal. Keeping this loan period at a maximum of 5 years prevents objects that do not belong to us from being subsumed into our collection.
- Offer us an object for donation that you will later want back: Once an item has been formally accepted by the Museum, the ownership of the item is fully and permanently transferred to the Museum. You will subsequently have the same access rights to the item as any other member of the public. Please consult family members or any relevant stakeholders to make sure they are all in agreement. Should we decide to dispose of the item in the future, we will endeavour to give you first refusal. If you want to temporarily give an object to us, say for a particular exhibition, this will need to be in the form of a loan.
Borrowing from the Collection
The River & Rowing Museum is keen to encourage applications for loans from our collection from other museums and heritage organisations, and will lend to other organisations where appropriate.
Recent loans have gone to the National Maritime Museum, Ironbridge Gorge Museums and Taplow Court. We have also organised loans where possible to local schools, care homes and community groups. Please contact the Curatorial Team to make enquiries about borrowing items from the collection.
The Thomas Keller Library
The Thomas Keller Library and Resource Centre provides facilities for researchers wanting to find out more about the Museum’s main themes.
The Thomas Keller Library was sponsored by the Keller family to support the River & Rowing Museum as a reference collection, offering research facilities and access to the most comprehensive collection of rowing books and reference material in the world. It also contains extensive archive and reference material on the River Thames and the town of Henley on Thames and its environs. The library is also available for researchers to view objects from the Museum’s collection by appointment.
The Chris Dodd book collection was put together over a period of thirty years by the journalist and author during his time as rowing correspondent of the Guardian, editor of Regatta magazine and co-founder of the River & Rowing Museum.
The Rowing Collection covers all areas of the sport of rowing from professional rowing and watermen to the royal regatta and university boat race.
The John Piper research archive of reference material was established by the Museum due to its long association with the artist’s work. This archive includes catalogues from many of his exhibitions, biographical material and a library of books showing his work as a photographer and illustrator.
The Thames Collection includes many books from the Thames Conservancy’s library. They cover a range of subjects including the environment, geography and management of the Thames, as well as the River’s use for leisure and as an inspiration to artists.
The Henley Collection includes a number of books relating to the history and development of the town of Henley and the local area.
If you would like to enquire about use of the library, please contact the Curatorial Team:
We always welcome research enquiries and will get back to you as soon as we can.
If you would like to view an object for research purposes, please read this document.
Rowing and River Thames resources:
- Hear The Boat Sing
- Friends of Rowing History
- The Sport Of Rowing: Two Centuries of Competition
- Sporting Heritage
- British Rowing
- Leander Club
Henley and John Piper resources:
Henley on Thames
- Henley-on-Thames Town Council
- Henley-on-Thames Archaeological and Historical Group
- Victoria County History (online resources and Red Book series)
- Oxfordshire County Council (local studies and family history resources in libraries)
- Oxfordshire County Council (online resources)
- The main archive of John Piper’s work is held at Tate, London.
- David Fraser Jenkins and Hugh Fowler-Wright,The Art of John Piper (2016)
- Darren Pih, John Piper (2017)
- Frances Spalding, John Piper, Myfanwy Piper: Lives in Art (2009)
- Orde Levinson, ‘Quality and Experiment’: The Prints of John Piper – A Catalogue Raisonné (1996)
Contact The Curatorial Team
Have you seen…
We love welcoming schools to explore the museum’s themes and enjoy the riverside location.
Learn about school visits
Dive into the art and stories of the river, revealed through the Museum's vast collection.
Explore our galleries
Take a seat on the Museum's terrace overlooking the weeping willows of Mill Meadows.
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