The Designation Scheme exists to identify and celebrate collections of outstanding resonance – that deepen our understanding of the world and what it means to be human.Collections that currently hold Designated status come from such diverse areas as political and ecclesiastical archives, art history, literature and theatre, economics, the history of transportation on land and on water, and the medical profession. They demonstrate eclectic tastes and intellectual journeys, the emergence of disciplines and theories and the careers of our famous figures. 

Find out more about the scheme

Apply for Designation

For a museum, library or archive collection applying for Designation status we have a two stage application process.

Get the new application guidance

Promoting collections

An updated toolkit for promoting Designated collections will be published in Autumn 2015: stay tuned.

Download Designation branding


The Designation development fund improves museum collections for audiences, devloping engagement and increasing sustainability.

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Read: Pearls and Wisdom

In 2014 we closed the Designation scheme for a review. Read Pearls and Wisdom, which set out our vision for the scheme during this period (or download as PDF).

About: the Designation panel

On 15 March 2015 we announced Dr Stella Butler as the new Chair of the Designation panel. Stella brings a wealth of experience to the role; she is currently University Librarian and Keeper of the Brotherton Collection at the University of Leeds, and has previously worked as Head of Special Collections at the University of Manchester and Chair of the Board of Directors of Research Libraries UK.

Find out more about all the members of the Designation panel and download a copy of the panel member biographies

Top image: Ivory diptych, France, 14th Century - The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London.

Bottom images (L-R): Automata clock, 1780s - York Museums Trust; Carved Figures depicting Medicine Spirits - Horniman Museum; The Alfred Jewel - Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford; Mounted skeleton of an upland moa - York Museums Trust.