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Title: Model Lives: The Changing Meanings of Miniature Ethnographic Models from Acquisition to Interpretation at the Horniman Free Museum 1894-1898
Authors: Nutting, Ryan Todd
Supervisors: Dudley, Sandra
North, Julian
Award date: 30-Jun-2017
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: Although many contemporary museums possess collections of miniature ethnographic models, few scholars have explored how these objects emphasize ideas of intellectual control. This thesis examines the use and interpretation of miniature ethnographic models in the late nineteenth century. I demonstrate how the interpretation of these objects reinforced British intellectual control over the peoples of India and Burma during this period by focusing on four sets of miniature ethnographic models purchased by Frederick Horniman in the mid-1890s and displayed in the Horniman Free Museum until it closed in January 1898. Building on the theories of miniature objects developed by Susan Stewart and others, scholarship on the development of tourist art, late nineteenth-century museum education theories, and postcolonial theories the thesis examines the biography of these objects between 1894 and 1898. By drawing on archival documents from the museum, articles about Horniman and the museum from this period, and newspaper articles chronicling Horniman’s journal of his travels between 1894 and 1896, this thesis traces the interpretation of these miniature models from their purchase through their display within the museum to the description of these models by visitors to the museum, and in each case shows how these models embodied notions of intellectual control over the peoples of India and Burma. Where previous studies have focused on only one or two of these phases of objects’ lives this thesis demonstrates that all three phases of these models’ lives (collection, display, and visitor interpretations) within the period reveal aspects of colonial control. Consequently, this thesis provides a basis for further work on investigating how late nineteenth-century collectors and museums utilized objects to both construct knowledge and implicitly highlight aspects of colonial control.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Leicester Theses
Theses, School of Museum Studies

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