The British Museum’s Collections

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©Trustees of the British Museum

The Latin America and Caribbean collection contains approximately 62,000 objects, of which just 0.6% is currently on display to the public.


This platform illustrates the various research projects that engage with the remaining 99.4% of the collection. Many of the objects held in anthropology museums were collected for scientific purposes. Anthropologists and curators put together comparative collections from which they have extrapolated grand historical narratives. These objects have since been regarded as holding immutable value and their importance has been linked to their capacity to accumulate knowledge through time. 

This diagram shows changes in acquisition trends since the first Latin American object entered the British Museum’s collection in 1757. Going beyond the display and spectacle of the traditional museum space, Centre projects carried out with the collections in storage expose the colonial legacies of acquisition, research and exhibitionary priorities that are highlighted in this infographic. The Centre hopes to counter these legacies, which are also associated with the anonymity imposed on the societies and individuals that these collections seek to represent.

The Centre co-develops projects that contest these assumptions to show that the objects in the museum’s collections have shifting and evolving meanings, and that their histories reflect political realities. The Centre provides physical access to our collections, and the digitisation of this work has the potential to reach and engage audiences worldwide.







SDCELAR acquires contemporary artworks into the British Museum’s Americas collection. We think that critical and creative practices such as material culture responses to collections can mobilise challenging and multilayered narratives. These artistic practices can reflect alternative interpretations to those established by curators and academics. Also, the works produced can be interpreted in multiple ways by diverse audiences, allowing for continual production and exchange of knowledge.

These artworks have been acquired to facilitate dialogue and stress social politics as well as culturally specific knowledge.


Publications related to women’s and maternal health with Wixárika communities by the author of this exhibition


Gamlin, Jennie B. (2013)
Shame as a barrier to health seeking among indigenous Huichol migrant labourers: An interpretive approach of the “violence continuum” and “authoritative knowledge”
Social Science and Medicine 97 75-81

Gamlin, Jennie B. (2023)
Wixárika Practices of Medical Syncretism: An Ontological Proposal for Health in the Anthropocene
Medical Anthropology Theory 10 (2) 1-26

Gamlin, Jennie B. (2020)
“You see, we women, we can’t talk, we can’t have an opinion…”. The coloniality of gender and childbirth practices in Indigenous Wixárika families
Social Science and Medicine 252, 112912

Jennie Gamlin and David Osrin (2020)
Preventable infant deaths, lone births and lack of registration in Mexican indigenous communities: health care services and the afterlife of colonialism
Ethnicity and Health 25 (7)

Jennie Gamlin and Seth Holmes (2018)
Preventable perinatal deaths in indigenous Wixárika communities: an ethnographic study of pregnancy, childbirth and structural violence BMC
Pregnancy and Childbirth 18 (Article number 243) 2018

Gamlin, Jennie B. and Sarah J Hawkes (2015)
Pregnancy and birth in an Indigenous Huichol community: from structural violence to structural policy responses
Culture, health and sexuality 17 (1)