Projects with the British Museum’s Collections

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©Trustees of the British Museum

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

This platform illustrates the many and varying kinds of  research that the Centre actively supports to 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.

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.

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.