The museum has a large permanent collection about the pre-history of Drenthe with permanent and temporary exhibitions. There are also a few peat bodies that you can view, such as the girl of Yde and the couple of Weerdinge. In the museum you can view findings from the Funnelbeaker culture, as well as the eldest boat in the world, the Canoe of Pesse.
The museum also has a permanent collection of figurative art, the northern realism in particular, with representatives of the fourth generation of ‘De Groep’ (with work for amongst others Henk Helmantel, Matthijs Röling, Sam Drukker, Douwe Elias, Barend Blankert, Alfred Hafkenscheid, Eddy Roos, and Berend Groen). This collection consists nowadays of hundreds of pieces and thus is one of the most important collections in this area in the Netherlands. The collection Dutch art 1885-1935 has pieces from amongst other Chris Lebeau, Vincent van Gogh, Jan Eisenloeffel, Jan Toorop, and Jan Sluijters. In the especially created style rooms in the Ontvangershuis, you can take a look at how Drentse families have lived in previous centuries. The bronze statue of Bartje is located in the garden at the back of the museum.