The ethnographic collections of the Great North Museum: Hancock are among the largest in the north of England. All areas of the world are represented, and often include rare items such as sealskin Parkas and a complete Inuit kayak.

There is a wide range of research opportunities available however the museum would greatly benefit from researchers interested in:

  • Asia We have extensive collections from China and India that have not been researched recently.
  • Africa Another area where we have a large collection but little specialist knowledge.

The collections are particularly strong in items from the Oceanic Islands, including pieces from New Zealand. Among many treasures in the Oceanic collections are:

  • a burial effigy from Malekula
  • an 18th Century Rei Puta
  • a drum from the Austral Islands
  • bark cloth
  • a Hawaiian feather cape and helmet

Other areas of strength include African tribal pieces. Among many implements of war and other items are musical instruments, fetishes, and a set of slave irons.

Some of the ethnographic items could be fairly classified as applied art: for instance Japanese swords and armour, Chinese ivories, chopsticks and clothing, and Benin bronzes.

Recent Projects

  • Researchers studied our coconut fibre armour from Kirabati as part of a research project exploring this material in museum collections across the country.  The project led to the publication of Fighting Fibres. Kirabati Armour and Museum Collections.
  • Provided access to Maori musical instruments for a project entitled ‘The origins and development of pre-European contact musical instruments in Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Rēkohu (Chatham Islands).’