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West African Donors to World Museum

19 April 2012 by Alison

Did you know that almost eighty Africans are known to have donated more than 500 objects to World Museum. Their donations helped to create one of the most important historical collections of African cultural artefacts in Britain.

A new display at World Museum shows photographic portraits of some of the West Africans who made donations to the museum between 1897 and 1916.

Most of them were taken by West African photographers. All the donors were friends or contacts of Arnold Ridyard, the steamship engineer who transported their gifts to Liverpool.

Ridyard was a prolific collector himself. He brought an astonishing total of 6,450 artefacts and natural history ‘specimens’ to the museum in Liverpool while serving as Chief Engineer with Elder Dempster & Company’s West African shipping service.

Little is known about some of Ridyard’s West African friends and collaborators so Zachary Kingdon, Curator of African Collections at World Museum, is helping to uncover their forgotten stories through his current research.

The picture below is of Nii Kojo Ababio IV, (formerly Amoako Atta) (1873 – 1938). Kojo Ababio IV was Mantse, or ‘king’, of the Alata Quarter of Accra’s James Town in the Gold Coast (now Ghana). He was an important figure in Accra’s politics during the colonial period. He donated ten Ga artefacts to the museum, four of which are on display in the World Cultures gallery in the museum on the third floor.

Black and white picture of man in traditional African dressPhotographer: J.K. Bruce-Vanderpuije, Accra c.1935. Permission: Isaac Bruce-Vanderpuije.

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