John M. MacKenzie
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Museums in Asia
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Imperial museums in Asia were unquestionably distinctive compared with those of the territories of white settlement. This chapter examines the origins of museums in the British Empire in Asia with particular attention to the motivations for their founding and the justifications offered for expenditure on them. It analyses the history of the Singapore Museum in greater detail. In the first place, western-style Asian museums developed out of the foundation of the Asiatic(k) Society of Bengal in Calcutta. Similar Asiatic societies later appeared in Bombay, Ceylon and Singapore. Interestingly, the Royal Asiatic Society in London founded in 1823 by T.H. Colebrooke postdates the original Bengal society by some forty years. These societies had ambitions to study the literary, religious, philological and historical manifestations of Asian civilisations. These were perceived to be fascinating both in their great antiquity, and through their links to the ancient worlds of Europe and the East.

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Museums and empire

Natural history, human cultures and colonial identities


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