A Venezuelan Devil's mask, mid 20th century, part of the school loan service
From the late nineteenth century the Museum collected objects from around the world. The Museum now has an eclectic group of World objects including weapons, domestic objects and costume, particularly from West and South Africa, North America and South America and South East Asia. Most date from the nineteenth and early twentieth century.
The Museum was never involved in field-collection and few items were actively collected. Almost all of the objects were gifts from local people, usually gathered during visits to distant lands. A few were collected by expeditions and subsequently deposited at the Museum. The objects probably tell us as much about the collectors as the people that made or used them. Some of the objects are part of Museum’s founding Bland collection and Stevens collection.
There are a few notable collections, for example Japanese ivories and other objects collected by Ambrose Petrocockino. He also gave the museum a large number of high quality Greek ceramics and Congolese objects collected by the Baptist Missionary Society.
In 1952 a decision was made to stop acquiring objects from around the world and some of the most significant objects were lent to the Horniman Museum, London. At the same time parts of the collection were identified as suitable for inclusion in the Museum’s school loans service and have been circulating to Berkshire schools ever since. Since the 1950s some collecting has taken place for use in school loan boxes or to reflect Reading’s diverse communities.
You can explore many of the world objects on our Collections Online website.
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Explore world objects on our collections online website