Logo of Basel Historical Museum
Dunkle AnsichtHelle Ansicht

Collection concept

The collection constitutes the core of the Basel Historical Museum. It is important to preserve the collection for future generations, because it is from it that the museum develops its diverse offerings for all groups and milieus of society.

In appreciation of its own collection tradition, the concept provides the framework for a respectful and sustainable approach to the existing collection and for a conscious and targeted expansion of it according to defined criteria.

The collection concept of the Historisches Museum can be viewed here: Collection Concept of the Basel Historical Museum (HMB) (In German)

Content focus

The Basel Historical Museum is expanding its collection according to the following thematic priorities:

  • Human being at the center: Man and the artifacts created by him or related to him are at the center.
  • Relation to Basel: Collected are objects with a direct relation to people, institutions and companies in and from the city and region of Basel as well as their ideas, thoughts and products in their networking and dissemination in the world.
  • Objects with history: Objects are not collected for their own sake, but in the context of the history associated with them.
  • 20th and 21st century: Documentation of recent history and the present is a focus.
  • Social, Economic and Industrial History: Important areas that tend to be underrepresented, such as social, economic, and industrial history, are specifically collected.
  • Diversity of society: Especially in the area of recent history, the collection should reflect the diversity of society, including the different realities and concepts of life of various groups.
  • Content value: The archaeological, historical, cultural-historical, art-historical, musicological, numismatic, or in other words: the content value of an object and not its monetary value is of relevance.
  • Continuation of the existing collection traditions: Objects are collected that continue and complement the existing collection in terms of content and thus strengthen it as a whole.
  • Special collections of national and international importance: In areas such as the musical instruments and parts of the coin cabinet, the focus extends beyond the city and region of Basel.




Criteria for collectability

To determine whether an object is suitable for inclusion in the collection, the following criteria are used in addition to the listed focal points of content:

  • Stringency: The object fits into the collection concept of the Basel Historical Museum.
  • Strengthening of focal points: The object has an above-average potential to strengthen existing focal points, to reduce a weakness in the collection or to significantly develop a field of development. It makes it possible to close a gap.
  • Authenticity: Only objects that are not forgeries are accepted.
  • Provenance: Only objects whose provenance is verifiable and unproblematic according to the current state of knowledge are included. State of preservation: Only objects in a good state of preservation are included.
  • Resistance to ageing: Only objects made of materials and processes that are durable or at least safe in the long term are included. Modern materials of the 20th and 21st centuries (plastics), whose long-term behaviour is often not yet sufficiently known, are a special case.
  • Object history: The object has an outstanding object history or an outstanding context of use.
  • Polyvalence: A variety of contexts of use and possible applications for exhibitions, research projects and educational activities are conceivable for the object, or various themes/aspects of history accumulate in it.
  • Inclusive potential: The object has an above-average inclusive potential, it documents and addresses previously neglected groups in society and promotes the diversity of the collection.




    Criteria for non-acceptance

    Exclusion criteria that speak against the inclusion of an object in the collection are:

    • No stringency: The object does not fit into the collection concept.
    • External expertise: Areas in which other museums, archives and other preserving institutions have demonstrably more and better expertise than the Basel Historical Museum are not collected.
    • Archival objects: These are objects of the archival genre that have no direct connection to objects in the collection of the Basel Historical Museum.
    • Duplicates: The inclusion of duplicates and other multiple records of the same type of object is avoided.
    • Unique item without connection: It is a unique item or a curiosity without an obvious or merely constructed connection to the existing collection.
    • No strengthening of focal points: The object has no potential to strengthen existing focal points, to reduce a weakness in the collection or to significantly develop a field of development. It also does not fill a gap in the collection.
    • Lack of object history, lack of context: The object has no documentation, it cannot be placed in any context, its function cannot be identified and it has no particular significance beyond that.
    • Lack of potential: The object lacks any potential in terms of polyvalence.
    • Forgery: It is a forgery, unless forgery is the actual characteristic of the object.
    • Unclear ownership: It cannot be established beyond doubt in whose ownership the object is before it is handed over to the Basel Historical Museum.
    • Permanent loan: The owner wishes to leave the object to the museum only as a permanent loan (deposit).
    • Lack of provenance: The object originates from a context of injustice, has a doubtful provenance or the origin can only be traced back incompletely.
    • Incompleteness: The object is incomplete or only part of a whole.
    • Price: The object is too expensive to purchase and thus cannot be financed.
    • Danger potential: The object has an actual or suspected danger potential for humans, animals, the environment and other objects in the collection that cannot be remedied by reasonable means.
    • Condition: The object is in poor condition from a conservation point of view, cannot be preserved in the long term or cannot be secured in the long term, or the costs of doing so are disproportionately high and cannot be financed.
    • Pest infestation: The object has active pest or mould infestation that cannot be remedied by reasonable means.
    • Lack of storage space: The storage costs for an object are too high and cannot be financed.
    • Lack of transport facilities: The object cannot be transported with the available means and external transport cannot be financed.
    • Lack of processing capacity: The processing of a large collection cannot be guaranteed with the available capacities in a timely manner and with the necessary quality, takes too much time or cannot be financed externally.

    Donation of objects to the Basel Historical Museum

    Do you own an object that meets the above criteria and would like to donate it to the Basel Historical Museum? Please contact the curator responsible or, if you are unsure, send an e-mail with as detailed information as possible (description, history of origin and use, dating, state of preservation, approximate dimensions) and photos of the object together with your contact details to sammlung.hmb(at)bs.ch.

    Please do not send us any objects without prior arrangement and do not bring any objects to one of our locations without making an appointment with the curator in charge. We reserve the right to dispose of objects sent or dropped off without being asked.

    Further inquiries

    Please address any further questions or suggestions regarding the collection concept of the Basel Historical Museum to sammlung.hmb(at)bs.ch.


    Management & administration
    PO box | Steinenberg 4
    CH-4001 Basel

    Office opening hours
    8:30 – 12 AM | 13:30 – 17 PM
    Reception: +41 61 205 86 00

    Sign up for our newsletter
    Logo: FacebookLogo: InstagramLogo: TwitterLogo: YouTube
    Logo: Culture inclusive
    Open today from 10 AM to 5 PM
    Closed today
    Closed today
    Tuesday to Sunday 10 AM to 5 PM
    Wednesday to Sunday 11 AM to 5 PM
    Wednesday to Sunday 11 AM to 5 PM