Ethnography, in museums, is the study of the material culture (everyday things) of people from all over the world. It's a branch of anthropology - the study of people and their cultures. Ethnographic collections in British museums usually contain objects from non-western cultures.


Bristol Museum and Art Gallery's Ethnography collection includes material from the Americas, Africa and the Pacific. There are about 10,000 objects ranging from tiny pottery beads to full-size native American canoes, from huge bark-cloth masks from Papua New Guinea to a ball of string from the Congo. There are painted coats from Canada, a quilted horse armour from Nigeria and initiation costumes from South Africa. The collections reflect domestic life (such as cooking equipment & furniture), work (e.g. agricultural tools & weaving equipment), technology (such as metal-working tools), ritual (power figures, masks & medicine), and the different stages of life, from baby carriers to toys to funerary masks. We also have a very important collection of paintings made at ancient sites in Mexico by Miss Adela Breton, a Victorian traveller, archaeologist and artist.


image: Woman and Pig, by Mathias Kauage, acrylic on paper, 1992 [Ea12742]