John McAleer
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The case of Thomas Baines, curator-explorer extraordinaire, and the display of Africa in nineteenth-century Norfolk
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This chapter examines one of the lesser-known aspects of Thomas Baines's career, that of curator. Even before his curatorial career took off at King's Lynn, Baines would have been familiar with the display of African objects in South Africa. The decision to inaugurate the King's Lynn Athenaeum with an exhibition neatly encapsulates some of the reasons for the flowering of museums in nineteenth-century Britain. Through his art, his travels and their translation in his curatorial practice then, Baines brought 'views' of Africa (sometimes literally) to Britain. Baines did something similar with the display of material culture and its interpretation for the people of nineteenth-century Norfolk. Three-dimensional objects, interpretive strategies and old-fashioned curatorial 'making-do' had an impact on his presentation of the wider world to the people of west Norfolk.

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Curating empire

Museums and the British imperial experience


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