Collecting (world gallery - additional information)


All people collect to various degrees – whether bringing back souvenir trinkets from holiday to amassing extensive samples of hunting arrows.

Museums are built upon their collections and their commitment to sharing their collections with the public.

The World Gallery showcases examples of a wide range of collectors’ whims and scientific endeavours as well as conscious decisions to record the mundane, everyday and extraordinary material culture of societies around the world.

On one level, the collections reveal insights that tell us more about the individual collector and the characteristics from their own society than the culture that the objects came from. Each selected object is the product of a deliberate decision to represent, immortalise, classify and document.

Many individuals who donated collections to the Horniman are present in the World Gallery – from the founder, world_gallery:layered_info:publish:people:frederick_horniman|Frederick Horniman in section on Horniman’s Vision to anthropologists carrying out fieldwork, such as Radcliffe-Brown, James Woodburn and Andrew Strathern. Four anthropology PhD students were also commissioned to collect as part of a project with the Royal Anthropological Institute.

Collection Information

These objects are only a part of our collections, of which there are more than 350,000 objects. This information comes from our collections database. Some of this is incomplete and there may be errors. This part of the website is also still under construction, so there may be some fields repeated or incorrectly formatted information.

The database sometimes uses language taken from historical documents to help research, which may now appear outdated and even offensive. The database also includes information on objects that are considered secret or sacred by some communities.

If you have any further information about objects in our collections or can suggest corrections to our information, please contact us: