Two large bequests form the core of the decorative arts collection of over 1500 pieces, namely James Ward Usher’s collection of ceramics, silver and enamels and the Exley bequest of porcelain and glass. Contemporary pieces complement the historic collections, with works by Grayson Perry, Gordon Baldwin, Clare Henshaw and Edmund de Waal.
The ceramics collection includes objects from Chinese, European and English factories, including the Lincolnshire Torksey factory; a small collection of 20th century studio pottery; and the Charles Norman Collection of 18th Century Derby Porcelain on long-term loan.
Examples of Venetian glass accompany a good collection of English drinking glasses of the 18th and 19th centuries.
The highlight of the metalwork collection is the English silver, spanning the 16th century to the present day, including tableware, spoons and commemorative ware.
The major strength of the enamel collection is the Staffordshire enamels, including snuff and patch boxes, bonbonnieres, thimble and bodkin cases, and etui.