Collecting networks and the museum
in Nature and culture
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The Manchester Museum was based on the collections of the Manchester Natural History Society (MNHS). This chapter focuses on the networks that propelled specimens to the Museum, the politics of acquisition and the meanings of objects. For three decades from the mid-1890s, the Manchester Museum was at the quantitative peak of growth by donation, which reflected natural history museum acquisition in Europe and North America generally. The cultural economy of donation encompassed both nature and culture. The geographical and administrative peak of the British Empire was in the early twentieth century, which was reflected in the quantity and provenances of objects in British collections. The foundation stones of the Manchester Museum were laid as Gladstone's government hurled the nation into the 'scramble for Africa'. Many historical studies accordingly focus on the early colonial activity, and much of the literature is concerned with the nineteenth century.

Nature and culture

Objects, disciplines and the Manchester Museum


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