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The history of Powell-Cotton Museum

The history of Powell-Cotton Museum

The museum at Quex Park began life as a single building, the ‘Pavilion’, in the grounds of Quex House. It was built by Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton in 1896 to house his growing collection of natural history specimens collected during his travels to Northern India and Tibet.

Percy didn’t just hunt and collect animals. From his earliest expeditions he took an interest in the people of the countries he travelled to and the objects they made and used. This resulted in him collecting a wide range of material that illustrated their lives and cultures. In fact, he was so interested in people and the way they lived that he, along with his wife and children, collected over 16,000 objects from the people he met during his expeditions.

Many subsequent trips to Africa added to the collections and, inspired by his lifetime of travel and adventure, Percy Powell-Cotton created a unique museum at Quex Park, to reflect the experiences of his travels and to show the world he discovered to people at home in England.

Following the death of Percy Powell-Cotton in 1940, his son Christopher constructed additional galleries to display the family collections of archaeology, ceramics and weaponry. These galleries link physically with the ground floor suite of rooms in Quex House. The Museum now comprises eight galleries displaying many significant and world-class objects; many equal in importance to those held in national collections. 

The Powell-Cotton museum is fully accessible to wheelchair users. 

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