Tony Eccles – Curator of Ethnography
I have responsibility for the ethnography collection and ensuring that public benefit and collection access go hand-in-hand. This collection received Designated status in 1998 and as such is recognised an important national and internal collection; it’s an important resource for many groups including academics, students and local community organisations.
My work currently includes research into East African (Kenyan) beadwork both here in Exeter and at other UK-based institutions because RAMM received a significant donation of this material in 2007. There are very few beadwork specialists in the country and part of my work explores what is held in museum stores and as such is rarely seen by the public. Much of this material was acquired in the late 19th century.
Last year, RAMM was successful as a partner applicant for the Leverhulme International Network Grant which enabled an official Blackfoot delegation to fly from Canada and to visit RAMM and view Crowfoot’s regalia for the very first time since it was acquired by an agent of the Crown in 1877. This important meeting appears to be leading to a repatriation of this spiritually important material.
I am also involved with the Open University, supporting the students of two courses AA100 Benin and AD281 Understanding Global Heritage. My involvement also extends to archaeology and anthropology students at the University of Exeter, particularly in 19th century colonialism.
I’m also the project lead for a sexual health exhibition which opens to the public on the 5 April 2014. It is called Intimate Worlds: Exploring Sexuality in the Sir Henry Wellcome Collection and is a partnership between the University of Exeter, the Wellcome Trust, the Science Museum and RAMM.
I am one of the committee members for the Museums Ethnographers Group and a participant in the Human Remains Subject Specialist Network.
Phone: 01392 265312
Address: Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Queen Street, Exeter EX4 3RX
I have a degree in archaeology (UCL, 1993) and spent some years as an assistant archaeologist on various excavations around the UK.
After a period of volunteering at museums in Chester and Liverpool I found employment in 1998 as an assistant curator in the ethnology department at the World Museum, Liverpool. It was there that I also completed a national diploma in heritage management (NML, 2003). Standard curatorial work gave way to major redevelopment work and I participated in the development of the new World Cultures gallery, which opened to the public in May 2005.
An opportunity then presented itself for me in that same year to become the curator of ethnography at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum.
Current and past projects
- Social Fabric: African Textiles Today (forthcoming)
- Fiji Art Research Project (17 June to mid-December 2014)
- Intimate Worlds (5 April to 29 June 2014)
- Taonga (14 December to 8 June 2013)
- Coded Clothes (27 April to 08 December 2013)
- Home Gods (13 October 2012 to 21 April 2013)
- Warriors of the Plains (22 September 2012 to 13 January 2013)
- Plains Indian collection at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (forthcoming)
- Sheila Unwin’s donation of East African beadwork to RAMM. (forthcoming)
- 2010 Human Cargo: An Opportunity for Participation and Collection Access in Cargo: Excavating the Contemporary Legacy of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in Plymouth and Devon. Plymouth: University of Plymouth Press
- 2009 A Skeleton in the Closet in South West Federation News
- 2008 Rosanna Raymond’s Genealogy (2007): Notes on a New Addition to the World Cultures Collection at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter in Journal of Museum Ethnography, no.20, pp.120-7