Displaying Your Collections

I’m just 1 person with a lot of collections. In a previous article, I discussed making your home your own by surrounding yourself with design choices and room arrangements that make you happy. In this article, we’ll focus on one aspect of that: displaying your collections. 

Decades ago, I picked up some advice from a home decorating show (I have a feeling it was Trading Spaces). I learned that collections are fine to have, but the trick is to find a way to display your collections so that they can bring you joy. Half the fun of having a baseball card collection is being able to look at the cards.  What good is an extensive collection of vinyl records if you never listen to them? Collecting something you love is great, but if you’re putting your time, energy, money and heart into a collection, you should also find a way to showcase it visually to honor its importance. It will bring you happiness to see it often, as well.

So how do you get your collection out of a closet or storage tub and display it in the open? How do you protect your collection from accidents or damage from being handled? Naturally, the answer depends on the nature and size of the collection. Some people’s collections are so large they couldn’t possibly be displayed all at once, so rotating items out on a regular schedule might be a good way to address that. Some people’s collections are awkwardly shaped and don’t lend themselves to sitting out in the open.

Below, I’ll discuss some of the ways I display my collections, to give you suggestions and ideas. I collect many things, from smashed pennies, postcards, and keychains to plushies, Eeyores, Harry Potter LEGO, and art work. 

Display Cabinets

Display cabinets are my favorite way of displaying items of varying sizes and shapes. Keeping items behind glass doors protects them from getting dusty and allows me to see them every time I go into a room. I can easily access the collection any time I’m adding to it or want to rearrange the display. I can show off things I love while keeping them safe from being handled by visitors or played with by my cats. 

Here’s an example of the egg collection I have in one of my display cabinets.

And here is a display cabinet with items from some of my fannish loves: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, the Chronicles of Narnia, etc. 

Display Cases

Similarly, a small display case might be better. If you have a signed football (or, in my case, hockey puck) you want to keep in pristine condition, putting it in a display case is a great way to protect it while it’s on display in your home. It can also come in handy for collections that are small and could easily get lost like seashells. My grandmother kept her collectable spoons in a case on the wall. 

Here’s an example of a display case holding my keychain collection. I have too many keychains to display them on wall hooks, for example, so I sorted them into bunches based on different stages of my life. Now I can open the case up any time I like to flip through a bunch and remember all the fun I had at a specific location. 

And I keep these two LEGO creations inside display cases because they were signed by actors, and I want to keep them safe while still getting to see them daily. 


I remember walking through the dealer room at a convention and admiring an artists prints. I told him I didn’t have enough blank wall space for another piece of art, and he sympathized. He told me he bought portfolio books and kept them on the coffee table so he could buy art and display it without putting every piece on the wall. And he could easily switch pieces out when he was in the mood to change his wall art.

I thought it was a brilliant idea and now have three art portfolio books on my coffee table to hold art pieces of various sizes. When I was growing up, my postcard collection was kept in photo albums for that reason, so I don’t know why I didn’t think to do this with art as well. 

I also have small portfolios that hold my smashed penny and token collection as well as my United States state quarter collection.

Rotating Displays

In the event that you can’t display an entire collection at one time, you could designate a spot or way to display part of that collection and then regularly rotate the contents. This would also work if you have a number of smaller collections, as each could be showcased in the spotlight for a time. For example, maybe you keep your record collection on a shelf but you have three album covers facing outward and you change those out every week so you keep the collection looking different and fresh.

I have a small curio cabinet I won in a raffle that has a spot on my living room wall. I change out the contents of the cabinet a handful of times throughout the year, based on what strikes my fancy. In December, I select some of my favorite Christmas ornaments to display in the cabinet. In the spring, I put Easter decorations. One July, I displayed some of my Harry Potter FUNKO Pop figures. When I was going through boxes of things from my childhood, I found figures and toys I loved and put those into the cabinet. I can change it as often or as little as I like to showcase whatever I want. 

Shadow Boxes and Shelves

Shadow boxes and open shelving systems might be the way to go for some collections you want to access often. A collection of books, for example, is often displayed on bookshelves. But you could have smaller shelves or sections of shelves for collections of matchboxes or cigar boxes. My other grandmother kept her collection of tins on display on a wall with built-in shelves. 

Growing up, I had several shadow boxes on my wall where I would collect tiny treasures, everything from pretty rocks to fuzzy teddy bears to doll house furniture. One of my shadow boxes was an old printer’s letter tray, so the compartments were strange sizes. It was so much fun finding the right little trinkets to fit each space. 

Make Something New

Another way to display a collection is to use it to create something new. For example, you could create a collage out of your postcards, frame it, and display it as an art piece on your wall. You could compile your favorite family photos into a bound photo book or put them under the glass of a coffee table so you can always look at them. 

I had a company make a blanket for me out of old t-shirts that represented important events and activities in my life from my time in girl scouts to college football tournaments. Now I can enjoy the shirts I can no longer wear and reflect on the memories they evoke. 

What collections do you have, and how do you display them?

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