European Commission - 7th Framework Programme European Museums and Libraries in/of the age of migrations last updated: February 2015

Weapons and the Anthropology Museum

26-27 February 2015

London, United Kingdom  | Horniman Museum, Gardens Pavilion


The conference is promoted by the Horniman Museum and Gardens which, like many other anthropology museums, holds vast weaponry collections from across the globe. In reviewing these collections as part of the 'Collections, People, Stories' project (2012-2015) and planning for a potential re-display, we have been confronted with many of the complex intellectual and ethical questions regarding their interpretation and display.

This two-day conference seeks to address and debate a number of questions including:

- How can / should anthropology museums in the 21st century display their weapons?
- How can the specific historical contexts in which weapons were made, used and collected be translated to contemporary audiences?
- Should and can we engage with the portrayal and debate of warfare, brutality, violence and loss in today’s world?
- How do these objects reinforce ideas of the ‘primitive’ and ‘otherness’ in their representation/misrepresentation of cultures as violent?
- How can weapon collections be used within public engagement activities?
- How can we unpack the multiple meanings and uses of weapons? Recognising their importance as status makers, artistic expressions and performance and initiation objects etc. without ignoring their potential to kill/harm.
- What are the different socio-political considerations and implications regarding the display of European, African, Asian and Pacific weaponry?


The organising committee strongly encourages papers from museum practitioners who work with similar collections from both curatorial and public engagement perspectives, anthropologists working in areas covered by the Horniman collections, and archaeologists keen to engage with anthropology collections and debate.

Those who may interested should send a 200 word abstract to Tom Crowley at tcrowley(at) by November 1 2014.


» link to the Conference