The Museum Collection

The Entire Museum Collection of Glasgow Women's Library is Recognised as a Nationally Significant Collection Awarded by Museums Galleries Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government

MLA Accredited Museum logo

Glasgow Women’s Library is a multi-award winning Accredited Museum. We are not only unique in Scotland but are also the only Accredited Museum dedicated to women’s history in the whole of the UK. In December 2015 we were also designated as having a ‘Recognised Collection of National Significance’.

Our collection of museum artefacts and archives, like our wide array of public events, is open to all and champions, celebrates and teaches us about how women have shaped lives, families, communities and the country. The objects, all donated, exemplify the lives of women, charting their historical and contemporary achievements and contributions and contextualising the connections across the many spheres that women inhabit within the ‘personal’ and the ‘political.’

Mask (Yellow), 2018, by Ruth Barker - a stylised white ceramic mask painted abstractly with shades of yellow, pink and green
Mask (Yellow), 2018, by Ruth Barker, one of a growing collection of artworks by contemporary women artists
Reputedly decorated by suffragettes in Duke St Prison, the elaborate curling patterns of this cast iron umbrella stand have been painted in the suffrage colours, now faded to white, pale geen and pink.
Reputed to have been painted by Suffragettes imprisoned in Duke Street Prison in Glasgow, this umbrella stand is one of the jewels in GWL’s Collection.

So what’s in our museum collections? Everything from Suffragette memorabilia, Women’s Liberation material and Radical Feminist campaigning materials to girls’ annuals, recipe books and knitting patterns; badges, quilts and protest banners; private journals, newspaper clippings and zines, and contemporary artworks. We also hold a number of t-shirts and other objects that form part of the Lesbian Archive.

We are still actively acquiring material. Recent collecting campaigns have brought us wonderful items from the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, material representing both sides of the Scottish independence referendum, placards and pink ‘pussy hats’ from the 2017 Women’s Marches and campaign material from the Repeal the Eighth Amendment (Ireland) movement.

Repeal the 8th campaign material, 2018 - flyers, badges and other ephemera from the campaign to repeal the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution.
Repeal the 8th campaign material, 2018

We have regular programmes of temporary exhibitions and events showcasing items in our collection. We also have projects that work on specific elements within our collection, often working in partnerships, for example Speaking Out, our joint project with Scottish Women’s Aid, and Women Making an Exhibition of Themselves, an initiative funded by Museums Galleries Scotland to develop and interpret objects for permanent display.

National Museum of Roller Derby

Roller Derby is an exciting, innovative sport that has been pioneered by women and gathered a loyal following in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Seeing the parallels between the Women’s Liberation Movement and the Roller Derby scene inspired artist Ellie Harrison to found the National Museum of Roller Derby as her contribution to 21 Revolutions. The Museum was launched in June 2012 and the Museum’s contents have been growing since then. Its holdings include:

  • Sports equipment, including helmets, wrist sweat bands and skating accessories;
  • Bout programmes and flyers from teams including Glasgow Roller Derby League, London Rockin’ Roller Girls, Leeds Roller Girls and many more;
  • Roller Derby influenced publications, including Inline;
  • A nurses’ uniform worn by a Roller Derby player during the opening ceremony of the London Olympics 2012.

Find out more about the NMRD here.

Research Enquiries / Access to the Archive and Museum collections

Whether you have a specific research request, have something in particular that you wish to see, or are more generally interested in our collections, please browse our online collections and contact the Library.

We are happy to answer any questions you may have about our collections and can help point you in the right direction with your research. We will aim to answer detailed research enquiries within two weeks but please bear in mind that the collections team work part-time. For research enquiries that require more than 30 minutes we will recommend that you pay for our research service.

For access to the stores, please contact us at least two weeks in advance.

More about the Archive Collections

More about the Lending Library