In 2013 the museum received funding from Arts Council England to embark on an ambitious project entitled Securing the Future of Our Past, aimed at increasing access and awareness of the museum’s unique collection.
This space has been designed to continue the aspiration of the museum’s founder, Percy Powell-Cotton, that anyone can be a researcher. A key element has been the involvement of our visitors in the selection of content and the appearance of the space. Whether you learn through play or touch, making visual connections or prefer independent study, this gallery aims to provide for all learning styles and ages.
From tourist to explorer: an introduction to Percy Powell-Cotton’s trips
Percy Powell-Cotton went on over 28 collecting trips from his early twenties right up until a year before his death in 1940.
This exhibition focuses on five of his trips between 1889 and 1932, spanning over 40 years. Beginning with his first major trip, where he travelled around the world at the age of 23, and progressing through his development into an experienced naturalist and explorer. Learn how this interest developed into a lifelong passion and examine the relationship between the natural history specimens and ethnographic objects he collected.
The handling collection
A key request by our visitors, young and old, is to experience the collection through touch. The museum is fortunate to own over 700 objects in its handling collection, but this had been in storage and underused for many years.
Arts Council England funding enabled us to conserve, catalogue, make these objects more accessible and raise the expectation of what a handling collection can be.
In Gallery 6, we have housed our handling collection in a stunning 4m x 4m glass cube, where anyone can come and use the objects for study, creativity or play.
You can look up the objects in the handling collection on our online database
Photographs: Nikhilesh Havel
Download the Gallery 6 app for interactive maps, highlights from the exhibition and archive photos and films related to the five trips showcased in this gallery.