Graphic Chinese print of a Kingfisher with a yellow belly and long orange beak perched on a branch between a flourish of foliage and hydrangea flowers. Two columns of Chinese characters have been written on the top left corner of the print.

A British Museum Touring Exhibition

For the curious and interested

Tour schedule

Down County Museum, Downpatrick, Northern Ireland
20 January – 13 April 2024

Amgueddfa Ceredigion Museum, Aberystwyth, Wales
27 April – 20 July 2024

Discover how reconnecting objects from a British Museum founding collection, formed more than 250 years ago, can offer new perspectives on entangled local and global collecting histories and their legacies.

When physician and naturalist Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753) bestowed his unique collection of hundreds of thousands of objects from all over the world to the British nation on his death in 1753, he intended it to be preserved and go towards 'satisfying the desire of the curious'.

This touring exhibition will, for the first time, bring together a small part of the collection that Sloane assembled – including cultural objects, natural history rarities, books and prints – that is now held between the British Museum, the British Library and the Natural History Museum, and will explore new perspectives on the collection with UK partner museums and their local communities in the devolved nations of Northern Ireland and Wales.

Confronting the complex history behind Sloane's vast collection, which was financed in part by profits from transatlantic slavery, the touring exhibition will reveal how and why objects from across the world were brought together. It will also explore some of the hidden stories of those Sloane worked with and relied upon for their knowledge and skills, including indigenous and enslaved people, and other collectors, explorers and naturalists around the world.

The exhibition is co-created in collaboration with UK partner museums and their local communities who are invited to be curious and interested, and to engage with the histories and legacies of the collection in new ways.

This National Touring Exhibition is supported by 'Sloane Lab: Looking back to build future shared collections', a unique partnership between the British Museum, Natural History Museum and University College London, which aims to digitally reconnect the Sloane collections so that everyone can explore our shared histories within the collection. It is a Towards a National Collection Discovery project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. For more information, visit the Sloane Lab website.