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Missionaries stationed overseas played an important part in collecting artefacts from all over the world for museum collections.

Missionaries – like commercial traders – were some of the first Europeans to come into contact with local communities. They certainly had access to these communities prior to any conversion to Christianity, which was when many gave up using and making the types of objects that can be seen in the Papua New Guinea section of the World Gallery.

Furthermore, where European traders stayed close to the coastal regions in many parts of Africa, missionaries settled further inland and for longer periods of time. It has been suggested that the length of time missionaries spent living among local communities allowed them to gain a better understanding of local languages, customs and insight into the material culture of the region.

The missionaries were well positioned at the time, knowing what types of objects ethnographic museums were interested in, in Europe and what was locally available where they were stationed. They were often able to provide more detailed information on the material culture arriving back in Europe.

In the World Gallery, many of the collections on display will have been sourced by collectors like the Horniman's founder, wiki:world_gallery:layered_info:linking_texts:movement:frederick_horniman|Frederick Horniman, who bought from missionaries returning from their postings. For example, in the Horniman's Vision display, Frederick bought a large collection from John and Mary Davidson, who ran a Mission for the Friends of China, which included models of Chinese life and a ceremonial fly whisk.

Frederick bought several things from J. Corbet Anderson, a Croydon artist. They included the wooden milk container, originally collected by Rev. Robert Moffat, the father-in-law of Dr. Livingstone. The Rev. Dr. J.H. Gybbon-Spilsbury of the South American Missionary Society donated three ceremonial necklets, one made from the hooves of a small llama. The scrimshaw, the African figure and the Fijian club on display came from Rev. Thomas Ray.


World Gallery: Additional information