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A close up of a Chinese dragon mask face with an open mouth and tongue sticking out





Our collections are complemented by a separate Handling Collection containing over 3,700 objects. It is an excellent resource providing unique opportunities to touch and study closely a wide selection of objects and specimens, similar to those in the galleries.

The Handling Collection contains musical instruments, masks, puppets, clothing, and many other items from all over the world.

There are examples from the past, and from the present, making it relevant to people of all ages. Visitors can connect the objects with experiences in their own lives. 

Being able to touch, play and closely observe these objects engages many of our senses. This is shown to remain in all our minds much longer than other methods of learning.

The Handling Collection is housed in the Hands on Base. It can be accessed by visitors and groups in sessions during the weekends and school holidays. To find out more about these sessions, visit our what’s on calendar.

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Collection Information

These objects are only a part of our collections, of which there are more than 350,000 objects. More information on the objects listed on our website.
This information comes from our collections database. Some of this is incomplete and there may be some errors.

The database sometimes uses language taken from historical documents to help research, which may now appear outdated and even offensive.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:


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