Virtual Collection

Antique LampPortions of the Oshawa Museum's Collection Database are now available online and more images and records will be added over time. Permission may be obtained to use collection images for education and scholarly purposes. Contact Archival or Curatorial staff for the most complete information about the online database and reproductions requests by email

Follow this link to our virtual collections:

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does a museum collect?

The Oshawa Museum recognizes the stewardship of the city's collection of objects and structures as a public trust. We value the trust placed in us to safeguard the collection and we recognize our responsibility to strategically develop the collection for future generations.

The Oshawa Museum's collection reflects our mandate which is to collect preserve, research, exhibit and interpret objects that best serve to illustrate the founding of Oshawa from the earliest native occupation to the present. We value and respect our obligation to act as storytellers and recorders of the community's history, aspirations, achievements and disappointments.

What does the Oshawa Museum collect?

The Oshawa Museum focuses on objects related specifically to the City of Oshawa from the first native settlements to the present day.

Museums cannot accept everything they are offered. We review each object offered to us, considering its relevance to the museum's mission, condition, and redundancy when compared to the existing collection. The availability of storage space is also an important consideration when reviewing object donations.

Why don't we exhibit everything?

The museum's collection of more than 25,000 objects is far too large to be exhibited all at one time. The percentage of a museums collection that is on exhibit at any given time varies; in North America most museum's exhibit fewer than 20% of their collection at any one time.

Museums rotate their collections to show the greatest number of objects to the public, and to preserve fragile items that can be damaged by long-term exhibition. Objects owned by the museum are used for public programs, loaned to other museums, and used by researchers. Some objects are important to preserve just for research purposes, but are too fragile for exhibition.

How are museum collections stored?

Careful record keeping allows staff to track the location, historical information and condition of each object.
Fragile collections must be stored at a constant humidity, and in a clean, dust-free environment.
Fire-extinguishing systems and security systems protect collections.
Staff handles objects carefully to prevent breakage.
Acid-free materials and specialized shelving support objects.

Where do museum collections come from?

The museum's collection has and does come from people just like you! While objects are sometimes purchased for specific exhibitions or programs, the vast majority of the museum's objects are donated by the community. Staff review each potential acquisition to ensure that it fits the museum's mission, can be given proper care and does not duplicate existing objects in the collection. Then the object is researched, catalogued, photographed, numbered, and stored, ready for use, and preserved for future generations.

s If you have an object you would like the Oshawa Museum to consider for donation to the museum's collection, please contact the curator at 905-436-7624 ext. 103 or by email

Stories from the Collection – Podcasts & YouTube

If history were told in the form of stories it would never be forgotten. - Joseph Rudyard Kipling

The incorporation of podcasts at the OCM allows the museum visitor to hear the stories behind the artifacts that form the museum collection. Museum artifacts are more than just what one would read on an exhibit label. They were made by someone, owned by someone, came from somewhere and we want to share their unique story with you.


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Beginning in January 2012, the OCM's monthly podcast series will feature a new artifact each month. Be sure to join Curator Melissa Cole as we journey through the Oshawa Museum's artifact collection and listen to Stories from the Collection.