The March of Progress

The review of the museum’s Anthropology collections continues apace. We have seen many thousands of objects already, and this week we finished one room of the store!

Ahem. That is, we finished the food-related items in one room of the store. As we are moving through the collections thematically, rather than starting in one place and just doing everything, I think it will be a long time before we actually finish finish any one area. However, this still represents significant progress, as we have done the objects relating to food processing (cutlery, strainers, graters, corers, chopsticks, teapots, frying pans, ovens (yes, we have a couple!))… It was very satisfying to be able to put the last ‘Bay Completed’ label up, having started the room working on spoons several months ago!

Next, the Food & Feasting team will move on to objects relating to hunting, trapping, and fishing, which should be interesting. We have a LOT of beautiful fish hooks. And arrows. Many arrows. Meanwhile, the team exploring Magic & Religion (which I moved back down to yesterday) is working on objects to do with religious and seasonal festivals – easter eggs, christmas decorations, corn dollies and the like. Yesterday I found an adorable Christmas tree decoration made of silver cardboard in the shape of a mouse wearing a dress! And a Polish dough figure of a farmer surrounded by geese, representing the new summer (which you can see on our Tumblr page). I even had a go at making some salt dough figures a little while ago, inspired by the amazing dough animals we found in the collections. Mine weren’t quite as good as these, but it was fun to try out an old craft. It’s amazing the things you learn working in a museum!

2 thoughts on “The March of Progress

  1. I used to make salt dough figures when I was a child, loved it! I had no idea such things were worth putting into a museum.

  2. It’s still amazing to me what you can find in museum stores. We have a number of dough figures from several countries, some of which are very elaborate and quite impressive. I’m not sure if they are made of salt dough or another type of dough.

    Sculpting dough dates back to least to the Roman period in Europe (dough figures were apparently used as offerings to the gods), and it is a very traditional craft in some countries, with figures made to celebrate different seasonal holidays.

    We have other objects made of foodstuffs as well, including a cute little figure of a horse made of cheese! (

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