Gallery 4 explores the work of Diana and Antoinette Powell-Cotton, two of Percy Powell-Cotton’s daughters. The sisters had their father’s passion for travel, exploration and learning. Diana was a keen artist and explorer, travelling first with her father to Sudan and then on her own to Italian Somaliland (now Somalia). Antoinette had a passionate interest in anthropology, which led her to volunteer at the Pitt-Rivers Museum, Oxford. Here she learnt many of the key skills needed to collect, record and interpret objects from other cultures. In 1936 and 1937 they undertook two expeditions to Angola, creating a collection of nearly 3000 objects; one of the largest collections of Angolan material culture in Europe.
Material from the sisters’ expeditions to Angola, is displayed on the right hand side of the gallery. The displays highlight key objects and rites-of-passage in the lives of the communities they encountered on their travels.
The left hand side of the gallery focuses on the broad range of skills and interests the sisters’ developed throughout their lifetime. Here you can see examples of the detailed research that was compiled to accompany the objects they collected, including object indexes, drawings, and photographs. The displays also highlight the other activities the sisters’ undertook. Diana went on to have a long career as a doctor, both in England and in Africa. Antoinette assisted in the running of the museum and developed a passion for local archaeology. Her work at Minnis Bay forms part of these displays.Photographs: Nikhilesh Havel