From Shrunken Heads to Collective Conversations

A post I wrote a little while ago about the changes in the ways that museums think about and display their ethnography collections.

Stories from the Museum Floor

Manchester Museum’s galleries are in a constant cycle of renewal, but none have undergone such a radical transformation in both display and interpretation as ethnography.

For over a century Manchester Museum has opened its doors and invited visitors to explore its collection of extraordinary objects. As the little girl gazes in wonder, pointing at the huge skeleton suspended above, holding her hand, granddad remembers the moment in his childhood, having successfully negotiated the curses of the ancient Egyptian mummies, standing in that very same spot and marvelling for the first time at the huge sperm whale.

Moments like this happen at Manchester Museum every day.

sperm whale

Time moves on and the whale, mummies, and so many others remain alongside popular new additions, not least Stan the T-Rex, yet some objects have not survived time’s test so well. In the early twentieth century the ethnology collection monopolised four of the museum’s galleries, including…

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