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Living Cultures

In the Manchester Museum the anthropology collections are mainly from areas outside Europe, namely Asia, Africa, the Americas and Oceania.

Manchester Museum is transforming and construction work is well underway - our two-storey extension has been built and the stunning South Asia Gallery and Exhibition Hall have been created. Now we are getting to the really exciting bit... the final phase of construction!

Although we are delighted to reach this important milestone, it is with a heavy heart that we have temporarily closed our doors to the public so that this phase of work can take place safely.

The museum is now closed until February 2023, for more information please visit our hello future page

Living Cultures

The Living Cultures collection consists of around 18,000 objects from Africa, the Americas, Asia the Middle East and Oceania.

The foundation of the Living Cultures collection was laid in the early 20th century by solicitor and trustee of Owens College R.D. Darbishire (1826-1908). He did not travel to acquire his collection of American objects but purchased it within the UK. In 1922 he donated 92 ancient pots from Peru and 112 objects from the Arctic. Darbishire’s donations encouraged other local collectors such as Rochdale landowner and industrialist Charles Heape to do the same. In 1922 Heape donated 2,820 objects mainly from Oceania and North America.

In 1927 an extension was built to display parts of this rapidly growing collection for the very first time. Then in 2002 another extension allowed more of the collection to be displayed. In 2023 a further extension will be completed which will include a new South Asia Gallery and Lee Kai Hung Chinese Culture Gallery.

The collections and archive are used for a range of teaching, research and outreach activities.



Please help us support our collections work and other activities by donating to the Museum on our Support Us page.

Donations large or small can make a big difference. Many thanks.