skip to main content

Make the most of our advanced search to find objects from our Heritage Collections. If you need more control than a simple keyword search, you can utilise our advance fields, filters and sort options.

Simple Search

To get started with our search, type a keyword into the search box, and press ‘Enter’. Your keyword could be anything, such as a person’s name, an object type, or a subject.

A simple search searches our whole website, meaning it will bring you articles, exhibitions and news items as well as object records. If you want to search the collections only, select the option shown.

A screenshot showing a search box with the term 'Pugin' entered. Underneath are two options, 'Entire Website', or 'Collections'. The option 'Collections' has been selected.

When using the simple search, remember that trying more than one version of your search could help. For example, you may want to try different variations of a person’s name. The same applies to modern phrases which might not have been used in the past – a good example is “World War One” which wasn’t in use before 1939.

When multiple keywords are used, by default the search will look for records that have all of those words. This means the more keywords you use, the fewer results you’re likely to get.

Sort your results

After pressing ‘Enter’, your search will take you to the search results page. From there, you can refine your results further. You can also select how many objects you want to see per page.

Your first option is to change the order of your results using the ‘Sort’ option. Automatically, the search will show you items in order of relevance. You can change this to be ordered by date, or opt for an alphabetical order by title.

A screenshot image showing a keyword search for the term 'Pugin'. Below, the sort option has been expanded by being clicked on. The sort options display, reading; 'Relevance', 'Title', 'Year Date Ascending', 'Year Date Descending'. The selected term 'Relevance' is coloured green with a green tick.

Filter your results

You can also filter your result. Filter down your search by creator, technique, or collection to show you a smaller selection of objects.

Clicking on the filter name will show you what terms you can filter by. In brackets next to terms, you’ll see the number of objects that would appear for your current search. You can add multiple filters to a search.

Click the ‘X’ to close the filter option.

To remove a filter you have applied, click it again to deselect it.

A screenshot image showing a search result for the term 'Pugin'. The screenshot shows three filter options; 'Creator' 'Technique', and 'Collection'. Collection has been clicked, as indicated by a green box around the filter name. This has expanded the filter terms list, which includes the terms 'Architectural Fabric' 'Historic Furniture' and 'Parliamentary Art Collection'.

Advanced Search

If you want to conduct an advanced search, click the Advanced Search option underneath the search bar. The advance search fields will open, and you can use these to create a more targeted search.

At the top of the search form you’ll see the box ‘Search Type’. This allows you to change the way the search is conducted:

  • ‘All of the words’ searches for records that contains every word/number you’ve entered.
  • ‘Any of the words’ searches for records that contain any, some or all of the words/numbers you’ve entered.
  • ‘Exact phrase’ searches for records that contain all the words/number you’ve entered in precisely the order you’ve entered them.
  • ‘Proximity’ searches for records that contain all the words/numbers you’ve entered within a certain number of words from each other.

Hover over the information buttons for more information about how to use the advance search fields.

The more fields you complete, the narrower your set of results are likely to be.

Improve your Search

The Advance search and filtering options should help you to narrow down a broad search to a specific search both before (Advanced search) and after (filtering) your search. However, you can also use these tips and tricks to improve you search from within the free text search bar.

  • Put “quotation marks” around search terms to find results that contain an exact phrase.
  • An asterisk * can be used to represent any letters that are not certain, eg ‘ye*man’ will bring up results for ‘yeoman’ and ‘yeomanry’.
  • A question mark ? can be used to represent a single letter that is not certain, eg. ?atherine will bring up results for Katherine and Catherine.

Boolean Search (and, or, not)

Our search feature also supports Boolean operators. This means that you can search using the terms ‘AND’, ‘OR’, and ‘NOT’. Boolean operators help to conduct quick and specific searches.

  • ‘Pugin AND Chair’ to see records which use both of those key words in the same record.
  • ‘Pugin OR Chair’ would show you all records that mention either word, giving you a much bigger set of results.
  • ‘Pugin NOT chair’ would show you records that include the word Pugin, but which don’t include the word chair. This is useful for narrowing down and excluding things you don’t want to see.