Unpacking the Collection

Part of the series One World Archaeology pp 307-325


Trials and Traces: A. C. Haddon’s Agency as Museum Curator

  • Sarah ByrneAffiliated withCentre for Museums, Heritage and Material Culture Studies, Institute of Archaeology, University College, London Email author 

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Alfred Cort Haddon (1855–1940) is most well known for organising The Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to the Torres Strait and New Guinea (1898–1899). What is less commonly known is that Haddon also spent 13 years acting as an advisory curator at the Horniman Museum in London (1902–1915). There, he exerted considerable influence on the running of the Museum, from its day-to-day management to its acquisition policies. This chapter explores Haddon’s personality as museum curator, paying particular attention to the way in which his relationship with source communities, professional colleagues, auction houses, dealers and missionaries influenced which artefacts he acquired for the Museum and which he rejected. The study provides fresh insights into the professional life of a man who played a central role in the establishment of institutional anthropology in Britain.