Over the past eighty years, the Watts Museum has acquired over three thousand objects representing distinct eras in the coal and petroleum industries. The Museum's collection is comprised of a wide selection of mining and drilling artifacts, including flame safety lamps, gas detection devices, canary cages, and model oil derricks. Books, archival documents, and a large collection of historic mining photographs are also included in the Museum's holdings. Additionally, the Museum owns a diverse collection of petroleum products from regional oil fields and an extensive sampling of rare minerals found both globally and locally.
Though the primary focus of the Museum is West Virginia's coal, oil, and natural gas industries, the permanent collection includes artifacts pertaining to mining and petroleum production in surrounding states and the Appalachian region as a whole. The majority of the Museum's collection has been donated by mining and petroleum companies, friends of the mining and petroleum industries, and alumni of the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University. The Museum's collection continues to grow through donations, bequests, and purchases.