A wealthy landowner and big game hunter, Colonel James Jonathan Harrison (1857-1923) of Brandesburton Hall, Yorkshire spent his extensive leisure time travelling the British Empire and beyond, hunting animals for pleasure and to fund his lifestyle.
After his death, his widow gave his collection of taxidermied animals, diaries, photographs, gramophone recordings and objects obtained on his travels to Scarborough Corporation. In the 1950s, the collection moved to the Wood End Natural History Museum and was absorbed within the museum’s collection.
Scarborough Museums and Galleries, like other organisations in this country, has benefitted from colonialism. The donation of the Harrison collection is one example of this. A collection like this can act as a springboard to explore multiple perspectives, some that have always existed, but have been marginalised by British colonial thinking.
This exhibition explores his collection as a new, dynamic archive. It does not follow the conventions of a traditional museum display that tells the ‘story’ of Harrison or focuses on themes. Instead, it recognises that this archive is an unfinished project, with multiple strands and layers.
Please Be Aware: the exhibition explores a collection of objects that contain images and descriptions of racial exploitation. We have included this material because it helps us to better understand British attitudes towards race that come from colonial past. We have tried to approach this material sensitively, but visitors may find some elements upsetting.
Find out more about the From Local to Global project here.
Image: © Scarborough Museums and Galleries