‘He States That This is the Most Lovely Building He Has Ever Had the Pleasure of Seeing . . . ’

The Travel Writing and Collecting of Frederick Horniman

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Ryan NuttingHonorary Research Fellow, School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, UK rn114@leicester.ac.uk

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Abstract

The travel journal, collecting, and exhibition of objects by museum founder, tea merchant and Member of Parliament Frederick Horniman (1835–1906) in the late nineteenth century demonstrate how material objects exemplify travel writing. Through an examination of objects he collected and later interpreted at the Horniman Free Museum, this article presents a case study of how collecting activities mirror and serve as a form of travel writing. This article presents a new model for understanding, beyond the written word, how travelers can capture the experience of a foreign expedition through the collecting and interpretation of objects.

In part fourteen of his twenty-one-part series “Through ‘The Horniman Museum’” Henry Woolhouse, writing as A. Visitor, notes two models of the Taj Mahal in the museum's Second Indian and Ceylon Room—one made from soapstone and one from marble (Woolhouse 1897; Visitor 1896). Woolhouse spends little time describing the former, which the museum accessioned in 1894, but provides details on how Frederick Horniman obtained the latter, including citing an excerpt from Horniman's travel journal describing his visit to the Taj Mahal in 1894 (Quick 1895; Visitor 1896). Solidifying this object as a representation of Horniman's views of India, Woolhouse concludes his description of the object by stating, “the [marble Taj Mahal] model at the Museum is a choice and valuable piece of work and gives the idea as to the magnificence of the original” (Visitor 1896: 3). Similarly, two guidebooks the museum printed during the same period also provide descriptions of the marble Taj Mahal, but neglect to mention the soapstone model. In this article, I argue that the interpretation of the objects collected by tea merchant, museum founder and Member of Parliament Frederick Horniman (1835–1906) collected for and displayed within the museum model during his 1894–1895 trip to India provides a form of travel writing by Horniman, encapsulating his ideas toward the Indian culture that he encountered on this trip.

Figure 1:
Figure 1:

Frederick Horniman c. 1892. Image courtesy of the Horniman Museum and Gardens.

Citation: Journeys 22, 2; 10.3167/jys.2021.220201

Few works address the notions of travel writing and collecting material culture with emphasis on how objects have been interpreted to reflect the views of the traveler within a museum setting. While Maitland (2015), Picchi (2015), Kalloniatis (2013), and Clark et al. (2018) all discuss travel writing and collections that entered museums, they do not provide information on how the respective museums they discuss interpreted these objects or cultures. Additionally, although Irving and Maitland (2015; Maitland 2015) discuss the interpretation of objects, they focus on the excavations in which archaeologist Alexander Henry Rhind took part and how museums interpreted ancient Egyptian culture through these objects; they do not focus on how this interpretation of the objects reflects Rhind's travels. Moreover, authors who address the history of Frederick Horniman and the Horniman Museum often compare their interpretative methodology to the Great Exhibition in Sydenham and rarely utilize the museum's own reports or Horniman's own thoughts on museums as expressed in his journals (Levell 2000; Coombes 1994; Duncan 1972; Teague 2001; Kerlogue 2008). Instead, they primarily rely upon the museum's guidebooks to demonstrate their view of the eccentricity of the museum and its galleries.

Unlike these works, this article combines the fields of travel writing and material culture studies by focusing on an object that Horniman bought during his travels in India and the way in which it reflected his thoughts on Indian peoples. To demonstrate this argument, I first provide a brief description of Horniman's journals from his first trip to India in 1894–1895 and the mission of the museum in order to show how Horniman intended to describe the places he visited. Next, I analyze Horniman's collecting during this trip and demonstrate that the reasons behind these purchases mirror the purpose of the journal. Finally, I show how the museum interpreted objects that Horniman collected for it, further demonstrating Horniman's views toward the places he visited. This article focuses on this period of the museum's history because Horniman's purchases and his vision for the museum directly influenced the museum's activities and policy prior to its closure in 1898.1 In each of these cases I demonstrate how the visit to the Taj Mahal and the models Horniman purchased of it exemplify the ways in which his collecting reflected his travel writing.

Revealing Cultures through Travel Journals

In the mid-1890s, Horniman took two extended trips: the first to India and Ceylon from late 1894 to early 1895, and the second around the world, including visits to the United States, China, Japan, India, Burma, and Egypt, beginning in autumn 1895 and ending with his return to London in early 1896. During both of these periods Horniman kept a journal of his travels, excerpts of which appeared in serialized form in The Forest Hill, Sydenham, and Crystal Palace Times from 19 April to 9 August 1895.2 These articles were edited and mostly referred to Horniman in the third person throughout the series. These serialized journals present descriptions of Horniman's travels, including population figures and histories of the places he visited, the dimensions of landmarks he visited, the transportation methods he used (including in-depth descriptions of ships and trains he traveled on), and information on objects he purchased. Additionally, the journals provide his views on the peoples and places he encountered, museum practices, and the objects he purchased for the museum, shedding light on his interpretation of the objects that constitute the focus of this study, both before and after their inclusion in the Horniman Free Museum.

During his time in India and Ceylon, Horniman visited Puna, Jaipur, Delhi, Agra, Cawnpore, Lucknow, Benares, Calcutta, Darjeeling, Colombo, Kandy, and Anuradapura, among other places. The Forest Hill, Sydenham, and Crystal Palace Times stressed that the publication of these articles allowed its readers to learn about the places Horniman traveled in. An article appearing between the publication of the first and second journal entries stated that the journal provided “the interesting incidents that occurred … [and] recorded many of the visits to various places of attraction and gave graphic descriptions” (Horniman Museum Scrapbook: 28, item 220). Through this description, the newspaper advertised the journal as a travelogue that detailed the places Horniman visited. Later, the article advertised future instalments of the journal, as well as describing these journal entries as affording an opportunity to vicariously travel alongside Horniman. It stated that “this series will … run into sixteen or eighteen chapters [and] will increase interest week by week, therefore, persons who are wishful of accompanying Mr. Horniman, as it were, in his travels should not fail to peruse his Diary which is appearing weekly in the CRYSTAL PALACE TIMES” (ibid.: 28, item 220; emphasis original).

These journal entries, for the most part, adhere to the plan highlighted above. For example, in the third part of the series, the journal described a tramway station in Bombay that could hold 625 horses, possessed thirteen and a half miles of track, and had seen 13,133,000 users the previous year; it also recorded the façade of the Secretarial, which housed the Bombay government offices, as measuring 443 feet (Horniman Museum Scrapbook: 26, item 202). However, this journal also provided glimpses of the views that Horniman held of the peoples he encountered. In the sixth entry, the journal mentioned that his party needed to be aware of the native “hill people” of the area, who were known to throw rocks and shoot arrows at Europeans, as well as providing population figures for the city of Jaipur (ibid.: 27A, item 205).3 Here and in other journal entries, Horniman gave detailed accounts of the people and places he visited in order to provide a virtual tour of the locations.

The fifteenth chapter of the journal states that on 18 January 1895, Horniman traveled to Kandy, Ceylon, by rail. The journal describes him seeing the jungle and reaching an elevation of 1,680 feet during this trip, and includes information on the engineering and construction history of the rail line (Horniman Museum Scrapbook: 32, item 214). Additionally, it describes Kandy in terms of its population. The journal states, “Kandy contains 20,725 inhabitants, half Cingalese [sic], and the remainder made up of some half dozen other nationalities” (ibid.). Again, through this journal Horniman provided information and details about the city to its readers and offered a vivid tour of the city.

The sixth entry of the first travel journal also provides an example of the type of virtual tour that Horniman offered his readers. In his description of Jaipur, he wrote:

Jeypore seems modern to a westerner, although in reality it is most ancient. All the houses are purely oriental; in fact it is the first entirely oriental city from a buildings point of view, that I have seen so far during my extended travels. The streets, or bazaars are wide, whilst the houses resemble palaces with small openings, lattice work windows, beautifully painted fronts, and the ground floors are used as shops with matting awnings in front. The traders appear most primitive, the goods being local with the exception of a few imported from Birmingham. The carriages are very ancient except those few belonging to Europeans. The population of Jeypore is 195,000, consisting of about 140,000 Hindoos [sic], 40,000 Musselmans [sic], and numerous other sects. The main street are 40 yards wide and the centre in a market square. (Horniman Museum Scrapbook: 27A, item 205)

While he labels Jaipur static and primitive, as he does numerous places during his travels, he also praises the domestic architecture for its design and its decoration, consequently admitting, at least to himself, that not all aspects of Indian culture are inferior and uniform. Additionally, in this section his journal translates the foreignness of Jaipur into something that his readers could understand, providing population figures and describing the city's features, including the streets.

Horniman provided such details for numerous places that he visited. This includes a paragraph on the processing of coconuts, as well as historical and financial information (Horniman Museum Scrapbook: 32, item 214). In part seventeen of the journal, Horniman described the ship on which he traveled:

On Tuesday, February 5th [1895], Mr. Horniman states that the “Himalaya” was built in 1891, has a gross tonnage of 6828, bar length is 465 feet, breadth 52 feet, depth 37 feet and the engines are 10,000 horse power. The crew numbers 292 consisting of 178 natives and 114 Europeans. The passenger capacity is 400, 265 in the first saloon and 144 in the second. (Horniman Museum Scrapbook: 32, item 216)

As with the other descriptions in the journal, this entry again provides detailed information on places that Horniman saw during his trip, in this case the history, dimensions, engineering information, and crew compliment of the vessel; through these details, it provides a virtual tour of the ship.

This type of detailed description also extends to the Taj Mahal, in the ninth entry of Horniman's first serialized travel journal:

He then visited the world-renowned Taj Mahal, on the banks of the Jumna, which river finds its way into the “Holy” Ganges. The Taj Mahal is known as the “Crown of Lady's Tomb,” and was erected in 1640 by the Emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb on his favourite Queen, and cost 31,748,026 rupees. It is approached by a gate which has been well described as “a worthy pendant to the Taj itself,” and is built of red sandstone, inlaid with marble inscriptions from the Koran, and surmounted with 26 white marble cupolas. Having passed the gateway, Mr. Horniman found himself in a most beautiful garden, through the centre of which water runs the whole length, and has 23 fountains in its course, and all around are the choicest of trees and plants. From here he observed the mausoleum which in itself is an object of glory. It stands on a platform 313 feet square and is faced with white marble and at each corner there is a white minaret 133 feet high. The principal dome of this exquisite structure is 58 feet in diameter and 80 feet high. The inlaid word and carving is beyond description, and as one goes round and round and in and out, he is lost in admiration and wonder. He states that this is the most lovely building he has ever had the pleasure of seeing, and further states that it is all white marble and in a perfect state of preservation … There are several other tombs the whole forming a collection of art work unequalled either in India or any other country. (Horniman Museum Scrapbook: 30, item 208)

With this passage, Horniman provides the same type of description of the Taj Mahal as with other places noted above, but also praises its beauty. By noting that it is unequaled, Horniman rises above labeling Indian culture as primitive and argues that it possesses architecture and art superior to anyone else. Meanwhile, his description of physical details, such as the dimensions and material composition of the Taj Mahal, echo his observations of other locations. Horniman also provides a brief history of the building, including its date of construction and its cost, as well as situating the building within space by naming the river next to it and describing the surrounding area in terms of the fountains and vegetation. In this way, as with other places the journal describes, such as cities, attractions, and methods of transportation, it provides readers with a tour of the structure.

Horniman's Collecting

This notion of virtual tourism extended to the objects Horniman collected, including objects meant to embody the Taj Mahal. While Horniman did not collect everything he saw for the museum, on numerous occasions the journal noted that he wished to bring objects to the museum that encapsulated and depicted the peoples of the countries he visited. I begin this section by defining the word “genuine” in relation to Horniman and the museum, then showing how the objects bought and displayed in the museum fit this definition, within the mission of the travel journals above—to describe the places Horniman visited.

Years before this trip, Horniman mentioned the importance of purchasing genuine objects for the museum. In an interview dated 7 May 1892 he discussed some leather bottles that he bought for the museum. He stated that “rare and beautiful objects are found at obscure country sales, and they often have the further merit, of being far more genuine than much which is palmed off on the modern collectors by big dealers” (“Workers and Their Work” 1892: 663). Although he did not provide a definition of “genuine” in this interview, Horniman highlighted the importance of this quality when collecting objects.

Differing from Horniman, a visitor to the museum in the 1890s emphasized providing definitions of the idea of genuineness of the museum's objects and detailing the role of these objects there. The museum's 1893 Annual Report, written by its curator Richard Quick, noted the remarks of Sir Somers Vine, who spoke at the reopening of the museum in 1893. In his speech, Vine, who worked as an agent at the international exhibitions held in South Kensington between 1883 and 1886 and served as the Assistant Secretary to the Imperial Institute, emphasized information on the objects in the museum. Regarding the ethnological collections, Quick wrote, “[Sir Somers Vine] referred to the genuineness of the exhibits, and said that … they might also be perfectly sure that the objects they saw before them came from the different parts of the world stated and had been used by the people described” (Quick 1894: 10). Similar to Horniman, Vine stressed the genuineness of the objects that Horniman collected. However, he elaborated on this by relating the idea of the genuine to the notion that the objects displayed came from the places and had been used by the people they represented, thereby matching the stated purpose of Horniman's travel journal: to describe foreign peoples and cultures.

This type of collecting is indicative of how Horniman intended to use objects to represent other cultures. Both Susan Pearce (1992) and Susan Stewart (1993) address collecting and displaying objects in this manner. Pearce refers to collecting both anthropological and biological materials when she writes, “the collection is genuinely of real Indian Ocean fish or Yoruba artefacts and so it retains its intrinsic or metonymic character, but the process of selection has given it also a metaphorical relationship to the material from which it came” (1992: 38). Pearce argues that an individual object serves as a symbol for a larger concept. Although she discusses souvenirs, Stewart describes the same process. She states, “the souvenir must be removed from its context in order to serve as a trace of it, but it must also be restored through narrative and/or reverie” (1993: 150). Consequently, both authors emphasize the way that objects are used as symbols, interpreted to represent the cultures or concepts from which they originated.

Horniman himself expressed the importance of genuine objects and the way that they were meant to represent the peoples from which they originated in both sets of travel journals. During his time in India in 1894, Horniman provided further evidence of his affinity toward genuine objects. The eleventh chapter of the journal records that Horniman purchased brass in Benares, preferring to buy it there as opposed to in other locations where he knew he could find it. The journal states:

He then visited the factory where the world-renowned Benares brass work is prepared … Mr. Horniman made purchase of the genuine work … for presents and for his Museum. Many goods are sold at places outside Benares which are only copies and made in Birmingham by steam power. (Horniman Museum Scrapbook: 30, item 210)

He clearly knew that he could buy this material in many other places, but, in his view, and as it was important for him to state, the only place to find the genuine material (Benares brassware) was at this factory. As Sir Somers Vine detailed, here Horniman defined the genuineness of an object as accurately reflecting its place of origin.

However, Horniman did not use these journals to promote the genuineness of the objects he purchased for the museum simply as an advertisement for the institution. He also noted the genuineness of objects he not did buy. Chapter seven of the first set of travel journals again highlights how Horniman used a web of information to determine the genuineness of objects. It states, “he also saw some jewellery of a celebrated merchant but did not make any purchases although his stock was very good and genuine” (Horniman Museum Scrapbook: 28, item 206). Here, again, Horniman noted that he determined the genuineness of the jewelry based upon his knowledge of its origin, while describing objects he did not purchase for the museum.

Based upon Horniman's writings, his emphasis on the importance of genuineness, and the definition of genuineness that he provided, Horniman's purchases after he visited the Taj Mahal can be placed within this context. Horniman's journal records that shortly after seeing the Taj Mahal, he visited a marble works where he purchased objects. Immediately after describing the Taj Mahal, the journal stated:

Mr. Horniman then visited a celebrated manufactory of inlaid marble work. He says they copy the pattern from the walls of the various tombs and are very clever at this kind of work; also pierced marble to the best pattern, and elegant work in soapstone. Here he observed exquisite models of the Taj Mahal and made a selection for the Museum and for presents. (Horniman Museum Scrapbook: 30, item 208)

This passage notes how these objects fit Horniman's requirements. Their genuineness can be verified through their creation by a “celebrated” and “clever” workshop that used the same patterns as found in Indian tombs, accurately representing their place of origin. Horniman then mentioned that some of these objects were intended “for the Museum,” denoting the fact that he was collecting to describe the places in which he traveled.

Displaying Horniman's Travels

In order to understand how the museum displayed and interpreted this model of the Taj Mahal, I provide a brief sketch of the museum from 1884 to 1898. The museum did not remain static, instead continuously growing through the addition of new objects and exhibitions. Before 1890, the museum existed as a private institution within Horniman's home, open only by appointment. Although scholars do not know precisely when Horniman first opened his house as a museum, a newspaper article from 1884 provides evidence that he organized the museum into themed rooms based loosely upon regions of the world, as well as on his insect collections. An article from the Forest Hill News dated 22 November 1884 named the museum as the Surrey House Museum and stated that it was open by appointment only (Horniman Museum Scrapbook: 2, item 002). The article also mentioned a theme that will arise repeatedly during this examination of the Horniman museums prior to 1898: the museums’ interest in educating the public. It stated that approximately two hundred guests had visited the museum recently, and that the museum was open “to those who are interested in works of nature and art,” as well as natural science classes (ibid.).

Figure 2:
Figure 2:

The exterior of the Horniman Free Museum c. 1896 (Image courtesy of the Horniman Museum and Gardens).

Citation: Journeys 22, 2; 10.3167/jys.2021.220201

The museum changed and added new objects and exhibitions frequently. A guide shows that it grew to include fifteen sections by January 1890, including four Old English or Elizabethan-themed rooms, an African and Japanese Room, a Bible Room, an Antiquities Room, a China and Porcelain Room, and two rooms featuring collections of insects (Horniman Museum Scrapbook: 5, item 013). Between 1890 and 1898, the museum opened to the public, starting with one day a week in 1890 and increasing to four days a week in 1895. The museum also expanded to include up to twenty-four rooms, which included the Figure Room, devoted to displaying clothing from around the world; an Insectarium; rooms based on objects from specific countries; rooms based on periods in English history; an orchestral organ room; zoological rooms; and a zoo, which contained two live bears and a monkey. Horniman closed the museum in January 1898 to make room for a larger museum, which opened to the public in 1901.

Similarly to his travel journal, my research indicates that the museum possessed the same mission to educate the public about foreign lands and peoples. A book about the museum published prior to the opening of the Horniman Museum and Gardens provides a key statement that drove Horniman's collecting and that of the museum. The work, titled An Account of the Horniman Free Museum and Recreation Grounds Forest Hill and published in 1901, stressed this educational goal. Although this book primarily describes the new museum building (now known as the Horniman Museum and Gardens), the collection held by the museum, the building's architectural design, and a guide to the exhibitions in the building, it also details the museum's mission. Early in this work, the unknown author provides a history of the museum prior to 1901 that clearly states both Horniman and the museum's motivation for collecting and exhibition. It claims, “Mr. Horniman began … to collect in England and abroad those articles which either appealed to his fancy or seemed to him likely to interest and teach a lesson to those whom circumstances, or inclination prevented from visiting distant lands” (An Account of the Horniman Free Museum 1901: 11). Laying emphasis upon the way in which Horniman wanted to provide educational content and instruction, the work goes on to relate that Horniman decided to open a public museum in his home as the objects he collected and the number of people who benefited from viewing them increased (ibid.: 11).

In addition to this work, the Horniman Free Museum's First Annual Report after it reopened in 1901 rephrased and confirmed its mission. When summarizing the history of the museum, the report stated, “[Horniman] acquired in England and abroad those objects which either appealed to his own fancy or which seemed to him likely to interest and inform those whom circumstances prevented from visiting distant lands” (London County Council 1902: 5). Like the work An Account of the Horniman Free Museum and Recreation Grounds Forest Hill, this report also underscored how the museum sought to provide information for its visitors on foreign countries and peoples. By combining these ideas of education, this publication provides the clearest sense of the overall mission of the museum: to collect and display objects from foreign cultures and people so that visitors may learn from them.

As part of this mission, from the earliest days of its opening as a public museum, the Horniman Free Museum provided guidebooks to its visitors. These books offered information on the overall design scheme of the museum and included descriptions of each room. The museum printed numerous editions of the guidebooks, demonstrating that its collections and exhibitions changed frequently. An article about the museum from approximately the mid-1890s states that it provided guidebooks to all visitors (Horniman Museum Scrapbook: 20, item 127). The twelfth edition of the guidebook highlights how the books were intended to be used. It instructed visitors to “keep to the Right throughout the inspection and USE THIS GUIDE in EACH ROOM to intelligently examine the OBJECTS OF INTEREST” (Guide for Use of Visitors n.d.: 3; emphasis original). Here the museum demonstrated that it intended these books to help lead visitors through the museum and offer instruction about the objects—and the subjects and cultures they represented—therein. Additionally, the third and fourteenth editions of the guidebook (dated Christmas 1890 and April 1897, respectively) indicate that the museum printed guidebooks over the course of its existence and provide good examples of the construction of these guides. Both these editions encouraged visitors to view the exhibition with the guidebook in their hand, and the third edition noted that “each room is numbered to correspond with this brief hand guide catalogue” (Guide for the Use of Visitors 1890: 1). Both editions also encouraged visitors to make repeated visits to the museum and served as advertisements for it by displaying its opening hours, while the fourteenth edition also urged people not to destroy the guide, but to take it home or give it away (Gratis Hand-Guide for Use of Visitors 1897).

Since this article investigates the museum between 1895 and 1898 (from the addition of the materials Horniman collected in India to the closing of the museum), my research draws upon the guidebooks dating from this period in order to demonstrate how the museum interpreted its collection, in lieu of the museum's labels, which are long since lost. As seen above, the fourteenth edition of the guidebook, dated April 1897, detailed the twenty-four rooms in the museum and provided a description of each room ranging from a single paragraph to over a page in length. Additionally, the descriptions of the rooms demonstrate that the museum followed the mission outlined above of educating visitors about distant lands. For example, the start of the description for Room 17 (“The First Indian & Ceylon Room”) states that “the wall cases contain specimens of ivory, horn, and metal trays from India and Ceylon. In the centre case are Indian and Burmese articles in silver, brass, and copper; and a small case contains specimens of cocoanut [sic] fibre from Colombo” (Gratis Hand-Guide for Use of Visitors 1897: 10). As seen from the description of these objects, the museum interpreted these items in order to represent natural materials and metalwork from non-Western regions of the world. The guidebook also described and interpreted the objects Horniman purchased in Tibet:

Then follows a very interesting collection of Tibetan curios, amulets, ear-rings, worn by men as well as women, trumpets, bells, etc., prayer wheels for hand and table use, etc.; above metal trays, etc., from Benares, Moradabad and Jeypore, etc., collected by Mr. Horniman on his first visit. (Gratis Hand-Guide for Use of Visitors 1897: 11)

Here again the guidebook demonstrates that the museum interpreted these objects (such as the jewelry and prayer wheels) as representing other cultures by describing their intended use and by detailing the places where Horniman purchased them.

Though the museum did not explicitly state that it had created themed rooms or themed areas based upon geography, museum documents offer a clue as to the museum's rationale for where it chose to display these objects. The undated twelfth edition of the guidebook explains why the museum placed objects from India and Ceylon in the same rooms (Rooms 17 and 17A): “this [room] is principally occupied by Indian and Ceylon exhibits, forming, with the next room, the collection recently made by Mr. Horniman during his travels in these countries” (Guide for Use of Visitors n.d.: 10).4 Here, the museum clearly states that it created these rooms not for the sake of constructing exhibitions based upon geography, but instead to showcase the places that Horniman had recently visited.

Other accounts of these objects, from the museum and from late-nineteenth-century sources, provide further information on how the museum interpreted them. A newspaper article, likely dating from the early spring of 1895 (since it references the fact that the museum would later place the objects Horniman purchased in India on display), furnishes evidence for how the museum planned to use the objects Horniman purchased. It states, “the Horniman Museum is a welcome sign of the times. It is a proof the people in England are taking a greater interest in India, and at the same time it will assist in spreading knowledge of the Empire, of its actual state and possibilities of development.” As with the works highlighted above, this article confirms the mission of the museum: to provide information about foreign cultures.

According to reports and guidebooks from the Horniman Free Museum, the marble Taj Mahal model likely appeared in the museum during the spring of 1895. The museum's Fifth Annual Report offers a brief description of the kinds of objects Horniman had purchased in India and of how the museum used these objects:

A large collection of objects from India and Ceylon, purchased by Mr. Horniman during his recent travels in those countries were arranged and placed on display at Easter. It consisted of art products in great variety … Idols of various kinds, made of marble, stone, brass, bronze, wood, and papier maché, musical instruments, pipes, palm-leaf books, prayer blocks and wheels, devil-masks, etc. (Fifth Annual Report 1896:10; emphasis original)

Although the report does not directly mention the marble Taj Mahal model or the interpretation of this object, it does reference marble objects in this group of acquisitions, suggesting that the museum included this model in this exhibition.

Two sets of models purchased by Horniman in India and displayed in Room 17A, the Second Indian and Ceylon Room, demonstrate this notion of portraying the peoples and cultures that Horniman encountered in India. First, a set of twenty papier-mâché heads that Horniman purchased in Lucknow, India, in 1894 appear in two editions of the museum's guidebooks. A detailed description of these models is included in the twelfth edition of the guidebook: “The next two wall cases contain specimens of Indian pottery, and heads in papier-mâché, representing the different Hindu caste marks” (Guide for Use of Visitors n.d.: 12). Similarly to the description above, this account of the displaying of the model heads fits perfectly within the mission of the museum, illustrating how the museum used these objects to portray a segment of Indian culture: the outward depiction of caste. The fourteenth edition of the museum's free guidebook, dated April 1897, also describes these objects (Gratis Hand-Guide for Use of Visitors 1897). The interpretation of these objects did not change between the editions of the museum's guidebook, which underscores that the museum's interpretation provided information on Indian culture, again demonstrating how it fulfilled its mission.

The twelfth and fourteenth editions of the guidebook also refer to a series of clay figures that Horniman purchased in Lucknow in 1894 and indicate how the museum used them to further its mission. Both editions describe the manner in which the museum displayed and interpreted these objects. The twelfth edition states that “The next wall case contains a very interesting collection of coloured clay models of figures (singly and in groups) of the different Hindu castes, trades, &c., from Lucknow” (Guide for Use of Visitors n.d.: 11). This description clearly shows that the museum intended for these objects to portray different cultures, thereby fulfilling its mission of educating visitors about foreign people, since the description of these objects highlights that they provide information on Indian religion, social structure, and occupations. As with the model heads, the display and interpretation of these models did not change during this period.

Like those of these other sets of models, the museum's placement and descriptions of the Taj Mahal (through the marble Taj Mahal model Horniman purchased) also match Horniman's feelings toward this building and the mission of the museum. In both the twelfth and fourteenth editions of the guidebook, the location of this model is noted as Room 17A (which, as previously mentioned, indicates that Horniman bought it during his travels in India), and as Horniman himself stated, this object is meant to stand in as a representation of the Taj Mahal.

The twelfth guidebook states that “In the next case will be noticed a fine marble model of the world-wide celebrated and beautiful Taj Mahal, at Agra, built in memory of the wife of the Emperor Begum Muntaz Mahal” (Guide for Use of Visitors n.d.: 11). Differing only slightly, the fourteenth edition of the guidebook states, “In the next case is a fine marble model of the beautiful Taj-Mahal, at Agra, built in memory of the wife of the Emperor Begum Mahal” (Gratis Hand-Guide for Use of Visitors 1897: 11). Like Horniman's journal, the guidebook describes the Taj Mahal as beautiful and presents historic information. Additionally, like the two examples listed above, the description of this model fits within the museum's purpose of educating its visitors about foreign people and lands.

Conclusion

By examining the travel writing and collecting of Frederick Horniman, this article demonstrates how views expressed through travel writing also manifest themselves in the interpretation of material culture. The article first established Horniman as a travel writer by detailing how both sets of his journals, published in late-nineteenth-century London newspapers, took his readers on a virtual tour, and how his museum's mission mirrored this notion of providing information on other countries and cultures. Next, I explained that Horniman collected objects that he felt were genuine reflections of the places he visited, and that some high-profile visitors to the museum also emphasized this quality of the collection. Finally, in the interpretation offered by the museum's guidebooks and in the reactions of visitors, these objects served as representations of colonized peoples and cultures, perceived through a quasi-Orientalist lens, which highlights both the perceived inferiority and magnificence of Indian culture.

This study, focusing on Frederick Horniman and his interpretation of cultures through his journal, his collecting, and the Horniman Free Museum, raises a number of potential future research avenues—in particular regarding tourist art, such as miniature models, as a subject for scholarly attention. Kasfir (1992), Poulter (2011), and Phillips (1995) note that this type of object receives little scholarly attention and is often considered too crude or too commercial to study. Furthermore, such objects are frequently ignored within museum collections for the same reasons, and, as Thomas (2000) argues, while many museums contain models and figures obtained by tourists, they tend to hold little information on the origin or meaning of these complex objects.

Acknowledgments

Thank you to Dr. Stephanie Bowry, Dr. Joanne Dixon, Professor Sandra Dudley, Dr. Michelle Green, the Horniman Museum and Gardens, the Kulturwissenschaftliche Institut Essen, the School of Museum Studies and Victorian Studies Centre at the University of Leicester, Christina Nelson, and Professor Tim Youngs.

Notes

1

The Horniman Free Museum differs from the current iteration of the Horniman museum, the Horniman Museum and Gardens. The former opened as a private museum in Horniman's home as early as 1884, then reopened to the public in 1890 and closed in 1898. The latter opened to the public in 1901. Furthermore, Frederick Horniman exerted more direct control over the former, while he turned over the latter to the London County Council prior to its opening in 1901.

2

These articles, along with many other articles on the museum, are collected in a scrapbook held by the Horniman Museum and Gardens, titled Horniman Museum Scrapbook of Press Cuttings and Other Items 1888–1901. Some of the clippings include the name and date of the newspaper in which the individual clippings originated, and others do not.

3

The spelling of several names in India and Burma has changed since the late nineteenth century. When quoting these late nineteenth-century scholars, I retain the nineteenth-century spellings of these names. Otherwise, this work utilizes modern spellings and place names.

4

Although there is not a date listed on this guidebook, it is likely dated between June 1895 and May 1896. The guidebook describes the museum as being open on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, indicating that it was published by the museum between June 1895 and January 1898; however, it does not include any mention of the New Oriental Saloon, which the Sixth Annual Report records as opening on 25 May 1896 and featuring objects that Horniman purchased in Burma and Egypt.

References

  • An Account of The Horniman Free Museum and Recreation Grounds Forest Hill. 1901. London.

  • Clark, Alison, Catherine Harvey, Louise Kenward, and Julian Porter. 2018. “More Than Souvenirs: Lady Annie Brassey's Curated Collections.” Journeys: The International Journal of Travel Writing 19 (2): 82105. https://doi.org/10.3167/jys.2018.190205.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Coombes, Annie. 1994. Reinventing Africa: Museums, Material Culture and Popular Imagination. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

  • Duncan, Marion. 1972. “A Historical Study of the Ethnographic Collections in the Horniman Museum, London.” Dissertation. Museums Association.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gratis Hand-Guide for Use of Visitors to The Horniman Free Museum and Pleasure Garden. 1897. London: Horniman Free Museum and Pleasure Gardens.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Guide for Use of Visitors When Inspecting the Horniman Free Museum and Gardens, 12th edn. n.d. London: The Horniman Museum.

  • Guide for the Use of Visitors When Inspecting the Contents of Surrey House Museum, 3rd edn. 1890. London: Surrey House Museum.

  • Horniman Museum Scrapbook of Press Cuttings and Other Items 1888–1901. London: Horniman Museum and Gardens.

  • Irving, Ross, and Margaret Maitland. 2015. “An Innovative Antiquarian: Alexander Henry Rhind's Excavations in Egypt and His Collection in the National Museums Scotland.” In Every Traveller Needs a Compass: Travel and Collecting in Egypt and the Near East, ed. Neil Cooke and Vanessa Daubney, 87100. Oxford: ASTENE and Oxbow Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kalloniatis, Faye. 2013. “Jeremiah Colman: A Norfolk Traveller in Egypt.” In Souvenirs and New Ideas: Travel and Collecting in Egypt and the Near East, ed. Diane Fortenberry, 6879. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kasfir, Sidney Littlefield. 1992. “African Art and Authenticity: A Text with a Shadow.” African Arts 25 (2): 4097. https://doi.org/10.2307/3337059.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kerlogue, Fiona. 2008. “Theoretical Perspectives and Scholarly Networks: The Development of Collections from the Malay World at the Horniman Museum 1898–2008.” Indonesia and the Malay World 36 (106): 395415. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13639810802521637.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Levell, Nicky. 2000. Oriental Visions: Exhibitions, Travel, and Collecting in the Victorian Age. London: Horniman Museum and Gardens.

  • London County Council. 1902. First Annual Report of the Horniman Museum. London.

  • Maitland, Margaret. 2015. “Hieroglyphs from the North: Newcastle's Early Travellers in Egypt and Their Correspondence with Jean-Francois Champollion.” In Every Traveller Needs a Compass: Travel and Collecting in Egypt and the Near East, ed. Neil Cooke and Vanessa Daubney, 113130. Oxford: ASTENE and Oxbow Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pearce, Susan M. 1992. Museums, Objects, and Collections: A Cultural Study. Leicester: Leicester University Press.

  • Phillips, Ruth B. 1995. “Why Not Tourist Art? Significant Silences in Native American Museum Representations.” In After Colonialism: Imperial Histories and Postcolonial Displacements, ed. Gyan Prakesh, 98125. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Picchi, Daniela. 2015. “Amalia Sola Nizzola (1805–45/49), Archaeologist ante litteram in Egypt and the Origins of the Third Nizzoli Collection.” In Every Traveller Needs a Compass: Travel and Collecting in Egypt and the Near East, ed. Neil Cooke and Vanessa Daubney, 131142. Oxford: ASTENE and Oxbow Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Poulter, Emma K. 2011. “The Real Thing? Souvenir Objects in the West African Collections at the Manchester Museum.” Journal of Material Culture 16 (3): 265284. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359183511413525

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Quick, Richard. 1894. The Third Annual Report of the Horniman Museum, Forest Hill, S.E. London 1893. London.

  • Quick, Richard. 1895. The Fourth Annual Report of the Horniman Museum, Forest Hill, S.E., London 1894. London.

  • Quick, Richard. 1896. The Fifth Annual Report of the Horniman Museum, Forest Hill, S.E., London 1895. London.

  • Stewart, Susan. 1993. On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Teague, Ken. 2001. “In the Shadow of the Palace: Frederick J. Horniman and His Collections.” In Collectors: Expressions of Self and Other, ed. Anthony Shelton, 111135. London: Horniman Museum Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Thomas, Nicholas. 2000. “Epilogue.” In Hunting the Gatherers: Ethnographic Collectors, Agents, and Agency in Melanesia, 1870s–1930, ed. Michael O'Hanlon and Robert L. Welsch, 273277. New York: Berghahn Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Visitor, A. 1896. “Through ‘The Horniman Museum’ No. XIV.” Forest Hill and Sydenham Examiner, 4 December.

  • Woolhouse, H. 1897. “The Life & Philanthropic Work of a Merchant Prince, Mr. Fredk. John Horniman M.P. No. III.” Forest Hill and Sydenham Examiner, 12 February.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Workers and Their Work—No. XXXV: Mr. Frederick Horniman and His Museum.” 1892. Pearson's Weekly, 7 May.

Contributor Notes

Ryan Nutting possesses over fifteen years of experience working in universities and heritage organizations in the United Kingdom and the United States. Ryan received his PhD from the School of Museum Studies and Victorian Studies Centre at the University of Leicester and is an Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Museum Studies. He recently completed an International Fellowship at the Kulturwissenschaftliche Institut Essen, researching objects held by the Museum Folkwang. Much of his work focuses on the history, collecting, display, and interpretation of objects to convey information and construct knowledge on places, cultures, and peoples in museums. E-mail: rn114@leicester.ac.uk ORCID: 0000-0001-7206-9208

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Journeys

The International Journal of Travel and Travel Writing

  • View in gallery
    Figure 1:

    Frederick Horniman c. 1892. Image courtesy of the Horniman Museum and Gardens.

  • View in gallery
    Figure 2:

    The exterior of the Horniman Free Museum c. 1896 (Image courtesy of the Horniman Museum and Gardens).

  • An Account of The Horniman Free Museum and Recreation Grounds Forest Hill. 1901. London.

  • Clark, Alison, Catherine Harvey, Louise Kenward, and Julian Porter. 2018. “More Than Souvenirs: Lady Annie Brassey's Curated Collections.” Journeys: The International Journal of Travel Writing 19 (2): 82105. https://doi.org/10.3167/jys.2018.190205.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Coombes, Annie. 1994. Reinventing Africa: Museums, Material Culture and Popular Imagination. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

  • Duncan, Marion. 1972. “A Historical Study of the Ethnographic Collections in the Horniman Museum, London.” Dissertation. Museums Association.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gratis Hand-Guide for Use of Visitors to The Horniman Free Museum and Pleasure Garden. 1897. London: Horniman Free Museum and Pleasure Gardens.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Guide for Use of Visitors When Inspecting the Horniman Free Museum and Gardens, 12th edn. n.d. London: The Horniman Museum.

  • Guide for the Use of Visitors When Inspecting the Contents of Surrey House Museum, 3rd edn. 1890. London: Surrey House Museum.

  • Horniman Museum Scrapbook of Press Cuttings and Other Items 1888–1901. London: Horniman Museum and Gardens.

  • Irving, Ross, and Margaret Maitland. 2015. “An Innovative Antiquarian: Alexander Henry Rhind's Excavations in Egypt and His Collection in the National Museums Scotland.” In Every Traveller Needs a Compass: Travel and Collecting in Egypt and the Near East, ed. Neil Cooke and Vanessa Daubney, 87100. Oxford: ASTENE and Oxbow Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kalloniatis, Faye. 2013. “Jeremiah Colman: A Norfolk Traveller in Egypt.” In Souvenirs and New Ideas: Travel and Collecting in Egypt and the Near East, ed. Diane Fortenberry, 6879. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kasfir, Sidney Littlefield. 1992. “African Art and Authenticity: A Text with a Shadow.” African Arts 25 (2): 4097. https://doi.org/10.2307/3337059.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kerlogue, Fiona. 2008. “Theoretical Perspectives and Scholarly Networks: The Development of Collections from the Malay World at the Horniman Museum 1898–2008.” Indonesia and the Malay World 36 (106): 395415. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13639810802521637.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Levell, Nicky. 2000. Oriental Visions: Exhibitions, Travel, and Collecting in the Victorian Age. London: Horniman Museum and Gardens.

  • London County Council. 1902. First Annual Report of the Horniman Museum. London.

  • Maitland, Margaret. 2015. “Hieroglyphs from the North: Newcastle's Early Travellers in Egypt and Their Correspondence with Jean-Francois Champollion.” In Every Traveller Needs a Compass: Travel and Collecting in Egypt and the Near East, ed. Neil Cooke and Vanessa Daubney, 113130. Oxford: ASTENE and Oxbow Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pearce, Susan M. 1992. Museums, Objects, and Collections: A Cultural Study. Leicester: Leicester University Press.

  • Phillips, Ruth B. 1995. “Why Not Tourist Art? Significant Silences in Native American Museum Representations.” In After Colonialism: Imperial Histories and Postcolonial Displacements, ed. Gyan Prakesh, 98125. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Picchi, Daniela. 2015. “Amalia Sola Nizzola (1805–45/49), Archaeologist ante litteram in Egypt and the Origins of the Third Nizzoli Collection.” In Every Traveller Needs a Compass: Travel and Collecting in Egypt and the Near East, ed. Neil Cooke and Vanessa Daubney, 131142. Oxford: ASTENE and Oxbow Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Poulter, Emma K. 2011. “The Real Thing? Souvenir Objects in the West African Collections at the Manchester Museum.” Journal of Material Culture 16 (3): 265284. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359183511413525

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Quick, Richard. 1894. The Third Annual Report of the Horniman Museum, Forest Hill, S.E. London 1893. London.

  • Quick, Richard. 1895. The Fourth Annual Report of the Horniman Museum, Forest Hill, S.E., London 1894. London.

  • Quick, Richard. 1896. The Fifth Annual Report of the Horniman Museum, Forest Hill, S.E., London 1895. London.

  • Stewart, Susan. 1993. On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Teague, Ken. 2001. “In the Shadow of the Palace: Frederick J. Horniman and His Collections.” In Collectors: Expressions of Self and Other, ed. Anthony Shelton, 111135. London: Horniman Museum Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Thomas, Nicholas. 2000. “Epilogue.” In Hunting the Gatherers: Ethnographic Collectors, Agents, and Agency in Melanesia, 1870s–1930, ed. Michael O'Hanlon and Robert L. Welsch, 273277. New York: Berghahn Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Visitor, A. 1896. “Through ‘The Horniman Museum’ No. XIV.” Forest Hill and Sydenham Examiner, 4 December.

  • Woolhouse, H. 1897. “The Life & Philanthropic Work of a Merchant Prince, Mr. Fredk. John Horniman M.P. No. III.” Forest Hill and Sydenham Examiner, 12 February.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Workers and Their Work—No. XXXV: Mr. Frederick Horniman and His Museum.” 1892. Pearson's Weekly, 7 May.

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