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The Museum's collections currently total more than 32,000 objects, and the number is still growing. The collections cover all aspects of coal mining and life in mining communities, from large industrial machinery, scientific instruments and historic vehicles, to artwork, photographs and items relating to home life, even a humble tin bath.
The Museum opened in 1988 as the Yorkshire Mining Museum and much of the collection came to the site in the late 1980s and early 1990s when many pits in the region were closing. The British Coal Collection, a large group of objects of national significance, became part of the Museum collections in 1995. This had been assembled by the National Coal Board (subsequently British Coal) and had been housed first at Lound Hall Museum, Nottinghamshire, then at Chatterley Whitfield Museum in Staffordshire.
The Museum continues to acquire both by gift and purchase, items that help to tell the story of coal mining in England.