Maidstone s new world explorer and collector of ethnography 30 th november 1816 24 th february 1873
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Maidstone’s New World Explorer and Collector of Ethnography 30 th November 1816 – 24 th February 1873. Between 1849 and 1867 Brenchley travelled from Maidstone around the world collecting art, ethnography and natural history.

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Maidstone’s New World Explorer and Collector of Ethnography 30 th November 1816

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Maidstone s new world explorer and collector of ethnography 30 th november 1816 24 th february 1873

Maidstone’s

New World

Explorer and Collector of Ethnography

30thNovember 1816

– 24thFebruary 1873


Maidstone s new world explorer and collector of ethnography 30 th november 1816

Between 1849 and 1867 Brenchley travelled from Maidstone around the world collecting art, ethnography and natural history.


Transportation

Travel was very different in the 19th Century in comparison to today. To travel around the world it took a longer amount of time. Brenchley would travel on ships across ocean and seas.

A photograph of H.M.S Curaçoa at Sydney Harbour. Brenchley travelled to the Western Pacific on the ship in 1865.

Image courtesy of Maidstone Museum.

Transportation

He travelled in canoes and small boats along rivers and lakes. He walked or travelled on mule across land, hiked up mountains and sled across icy conditions. It is remarkable how Brenchley managed to transport home so many items of ethnography in such pristine condition.


Native north america

Native North America

Brenchley travelled to New York State in 1849 where he lived a forest life among a Native American Tribe likely to have been the Wynadot (Huron). Brenchley went on to explore the rest of the United States, his journey took him along the Missouri River and over the Rocky Mountains to reach the Northwest Coast. He spent four years on the Hawaiian Islands where he met his travel partner Jules Remy, and then together they explored California, New Mexico and entered Indian Territory travelling to the Great Salt Lake.


Maidstone s new world explorer and collector of ethnography 30 th november 1816

  • Ethnography

  • Brenchley collected ethnographic objects (an object illustrative of the people or culture it originated from). By looking at certain objects and finding similarities between styles, it is possible to identify where an object originated from.

Snow Boots from the Inuit Tribe

Both items of footwearpictured were used during winter snow conditions. The material and the style indicates that each pair were used by different tribes in different areas of North America and Canada.

Snowshoes from the Cree or Ojibwe Tribe.


Maidstone s new world explorer and collector of ethnography 30 th november 1816

Why did Brenchley collect objects?

Read the two extracts taken from the Preface in Jottings during the Cruise of H.M.S. Curaçoa among the South-Sea Islands in 1865 (1873: xvi).

“Though [Brenchley] left a large amount of notes made during his journeys, he was more interested in collecting material objects, illustrative and commemorative of his varied travels, than devoting himself to literary descriptions of them.”

“Thus, though travelling for his own instruction and amusement, he spared neither cost nor trouble in procuring what he thought would contribute to the instruction and gratification of others.”

Discuss: Why do you think the collection of souvenirs was more important to Brenchley than origin and meaning of each tribal object?


The northwest coast

The Northwest Coast

The Brenchley Collection features a large number of objects acquired from the Northwest Coast of Canada and the United States. No written documentation is available therefore it is difficult to locate the exact provenance (origin) of many objects. Where the object originates from and which tribe made it can only be guessed. To make identification even more difficult many of the tribes from the Northwest Coast, such as the Tsimshian, Haida and Kwakwaka’wakw, have a similar artistic styles.

A Map of Northwest Coast Tribes


Objects of curiosity

Objects of Curiosity

Explorers collected objects from around the world and displayed them in Cabinets of Curiosities symbolising various visited places. Many items collected by Brenchley were made by Native American tribes specifically for tourists. For example, the Haida from the Northwest Coast carved statues and pipes from Argillite, a soft black rock. These objects were hugely popular and some depicted authentic tribal designs of supernatural beings. Most were carved to show European or Euro-American scenes requested by visitors themselves. This art became known as Souvenir Art.


Maidstone s new world explorer and collector of ethnography 30 th november 1816

How did Julius Brenchley acquire so many objects for his collection?

  • Most masks were used during ceremonies and rituals and possibly have spiritual or religious significance. Do you think it was likely that a Native American tribe would give away an object of significance?

  • Discuss the possible ways Mr. Brenchley came to own Native American masks.

  • Given as GIFT

  • Acquired through TRADE

  • FOUND. Many tribes disregarded objects once used

  • Bought from sale as SOUVENIR ART


Key terms

Key Terms

What do these words mean in relation to the Brenchley Collection?

ARGILLITE

CABINET OF CURIOSITY

ETHNOGRAPHY

PROVENANCE

SOUVENIR ART

BANDOLIER BAG


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