Curating empire

Museums and the British imperial experience

Edited by Sarah Longair and John McAleer

Curating empire

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9346-7
  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £14.99
  • Published Date: May 2016
  • BIC Category: History, General & world history, Museology & heritage studies, Colonialism & imperialism, HISTORY / Essays, ART / Museum Studies, Reference, information & interdisciplinary subjects / Museology & heritage studies, Modern History, Humanities / Colonialism & imperialism
  • Series: Studies in Imperialism


Curating empire explores the diverse roles played by museums and their curators in moulding and representing the British imperial experience. This collection demonstrates how individuals, their curatorial practices, and intellectual and political agendas influenced the development of a variety of museums across the globe. Taken together, these contributions suggest that museums are not just sites for accessing history but need to be considered as historical sites of significance in themselves. Individual essays examine the work of curators in museums in Britain and the colonies, the historical display and interpretation of empire in Britain, and the establishment of 'museum networks' in the British imperial context.

Curating empire sheds new light on the relationship between museums, as repositories for objects and cultural institutions for conveying knowledge, and the politics of culture and the formation of identities throughout the British Empire.


General editor's introduction
Introduction: Curating empire: Museums and the British imperial experience - Sarah Longair and John McAleer
1. The case of Thomas Baines, curator-explorer extraordinaire, and the display of Africa in nineteenth-century Norfolk - John McAleer
2. Visiting the Empire at the provincial museum, 1900-50 - Claire Wintle
3. Carving out a place in the Better Britain of the South Pacific: Maori in New Zealand museums and exhibitions - Conal McCarthy
4. Curiosities or science in the National Museum of Victoria: Procurement networks and the purpose of a museum - Gareth Knapman
5. Narrative as history, image as memory: Exhibiting the Great War in Australia, 1917-41-Jennifer Wellington
6. 'The lady curator's style': Negotiating curatorial challenges in the Zanzibar Museum -Sarah Longair
7. A Museum for Sierra Leone? Amateur enthusiasms and colonial museum policy in British West Africa - Paul Basu
8. Edgar Thurston at the Madras Museum (1885-1909): The multiple careers of a colonial museum curator - Savithri Preetha Nair
9. Sir William Gregory and the origins and foundation of the Colombo Museum - Philip McEvansoneya
10. Tipu's Tiger and images of India in British museums, 1799-2009 - Sadiah Qureshi
Afterword: Objects, empire and museums - Sarah Longair and John McAleer


John McAleer is Curator of Eighteenth-Century Imperial and Maritime History at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

Sarah Longair is Education Manager at the British Museum and was awarded her PhD from Birkbeck, University of London in 2012

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