The collection at Gloucester includes original artifacts, models, photographs, documents and videos. There is a boat cabin with typical fittings and decoration, and there are fine examples of traditional costumes and painted ware used on the boats.
Other displays show tools used by the engineers who planned canals and by the navvies who built them. Also shown are weapons used to enforce law and order and silverware presented to worthy Canal Company shareholders. The warehouse setting is ideal for showing the types of cargo handled and the equipment used.
A range of engine types are on display from a rare example of a steam engine for a narrow boat to the more familiar Bolinder semi-diesel.
The largest indoor exhibit is a Foden steam engine and winch that was used to haul boats and barges out of the water at the Liverpool Lighterage Co's maintenance yard beside the River Weaver at Northwich. How it works is illustrated by a fine model of the yard.
Outside on the quayside are examples of cranes used for cargo handling, including a working steam crane that is looked after by the Friends of the Museum.