Pieces in the museum’s art collections date from the late 19th - early 20th century and were mainly either commissioned by or gifted to the Carnegie family. The artistic styles represented are: Neoclassical, Rococo, Gothic, Medieval, Arts & Crafts, Old Russian, Oriental, Art Nouveau and Art Deco. 

Fine arts 

The fine art collection contains portraits of the Carnegie family, industrial scenes, townscapes and landscape paintings by artists such as Andrew Blair and William Geddes, Stephen Seymour Thomas, Howard Russell Butler and Aaron Henry Gorson. The museum also holds architectural drawings of the Carnegie Institute in Pennsylvania, and early 20th century prints and cartoons of Andrew Carnegie. The sculpture collection comprises busts of Herbert Spencer and John Morley, and a carving of Pan made of the wood from Dunfermline Abbey.

Decorative arts 

The museum is the keeper of the largest collection of presentation caskets gifted to a single individual in the United Kingdom, including works by firms such as Hamilton & Inches, Neresheimer and Tiffany, and artists like Alexander Fisher, Harry Hems and George Washington Browne (architect). The collection also includes numerous presentation trowels, mallets, keys and illuminated manuscripts (freedom certificates and honorary degrees).

The scope of the material ranges from the cities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Cork, Belfast, Salisbury and Newcastle, the guilds such as the Worshipful Company of Plumbers and the Guild of the Mystery or Art of Ironmongers, to the universities of St. Andrews, Glasgow, Bologna, Groningen, Brown, Allegheny, Pennsylvania State College and Stevens Institute.