What objects did Victorian museums contain, and how did they get them? This chapter looks at the contents of municipal museums in order to try and understand further the meaning and purpose of such institutions in the period. A museum object can be seen as a special kind of object, through which donors and curators seek to produce and ratify knowledge and power. It has been selected out of the vast possibilities of the material world. In order to understand the principles of selection, we need to think in terms of a system of objects, where some objects are valued more than others, and have different symbolic meanings.1 This system is constituted by the relationship between people and objects; some people have the power to determine the meaning of objects, but people’s possession of different objects can in fact give them power. As Pearce says, objects are ‘both active and passive; we make them, and they influence us’.2 Analysing this interaction between people and objects can help produce a much deeper understanding of the construction of the museum objects, and will help to show both how the middleclass provincial elites in question viewed various aspects of the material world, individually and more important collectively, and what role they expected the museum, as a gathering of objects, to play.