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National Museums Scotland cares for approximately 9150 objects from the African continent including historically significant early collections going back to the 16th century.
In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, missionaries were significant contributors to the collections from Eastern and Central Africa including David Livingstone, Reverend James Moon, and Adam Darling Purves. Objects from these collections are on display in the Patterns of Life gallery.
Since the 1970s contemporary material from Africa has been collected with a focus on textiles from east, west and southern Africa.
National Museums Scotland holds approximately 7760 objects from the Americas including significant early ethnographic collections from North America connected to early voyages of British exploration, to trade and to colonial government. They can be traced to key British figures Captain James Cook (1776-1779), Sir William Parry (1790–1855), Frederick Beechey (1796–1856), and Dr John Rae (1813–1893).
Early museum policy established international links that yielded significant collections including those formed by the Hudson’s Bay Company factors in Canada from Arctic and Sub-Arctic peoples in the late 1850s and these remain the Museum’s best known North American collections, on display in the Living Lands and Artistic Legacies galleries.
In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, archaeologists contributed to the collections from South and Central America. The South American collection is particularly strong in Peruvian textiles, as well as Chimu, Moche, Mayan and Nasca pottery. The collection also features three important Mola textiles from Panama.
Since the 1970s contemporary material from North America has been collected with a focus on contemporary art from the Arctic and Northwest Coast, and jewellery from the Southwestern United States.
National Museums Scotland holds around 5800 objects from the Oceania region. These include historically significant early material connected to early voyages of British exploration, to trade and to colonial government. They can be traced to key British figures Captain James Cook (1776-1779), Sir Thomas Brisbane (1771–1860) and Frederick Beechey (1796–1856) amongst others. Material from this period also includes a significant collection of 18th century barkcloth from across Polynesia.
In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, missionaries were significant contributors to the collections including Reverend James Hadfield, who worked in the Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia. Objects from these collections are on display in the Facing the Sea gallery.
Since the 1970s contemporary material from Oceania has been collected with a focus on Māori and Indigenous Australian contemporary art.
Maui Goes Fishing by John Bevan Ford, 1994, Aotearoa New Zealand (A.1994.306)
Our Ancient Mediterranean archaeological collections consist of over 12,000 objects from across northern Africa, southern Europe, and western Asia.
Our African, Americas and Oceanic collections of over 25,000 objects represent historic and contemporary textiles, musical instruments, pottery, weapons, jewellery, basketry and contemporary art.