Inter-University Research Institute Corporation National Institutes for the Humanities National Museum of Ethnology

The George Brown Collection at Minpaku

The full collections of George Brown consist of photographic plates and prints, documents, ethnographic materials, and natural history specimens, and are distributed across many different public and private collections in numerous countries. A full account of all these collections has not been attempted. Other locations with important George Brown collections are the Mitchell Library, Sydney (documents and photographic prints), and the Australian Museum, Sydney (photographic plates) (see ‘Other resources’).

The George Brown Collection at Minpaku consists of approximately 3,000 items. Most of these are handmade artefacts made from natural materials. They were collected in the Pacific islands over a period of four decades from the 1860s. Although there is not much detail in the original collection records, the artefacts come from a period of rapid social change in the Oceanic world. They provide an important record of ways of living that are dramatically different from present ways.

Most objects in the collection can be found by searching in our public database.

Although Brown first offered the artefact collection for sale to the Australian Museum, in the early 1900’s, the collection was eventually purchased by the University of Newcastle on Tyne in England, and remained there as a research and teaching collection until its purchase by the National Museum of Ethnology, Japan, in 1984. Considerable debate surrounded the second sale of the collection, and this can be seen in a number of the publications listed under ‘Other Resources’. Further information about the collection was published around the time of its first public presentation, at a Special Exhibition held by Minpaku in Osaka, in 1999.

English articles about the collection at Minpaku

On the George Brown Collection: Shuzo Ishimori
Controversial Collection, The George Brown Exhibition, 10 March-31 May 1999:
Helen Gardner
Cultural Treasures from the Pacific, The George Brown Exhibition, 10 March-31 May 1999:
Kate Vusoniwailala

Japanese articles and links about the collection and the exhibition.

南太平洋の文化遺産 ─ ジョージ・ブラウン・コレクション
国立民族学博物館調査報告(Senri Ethnological Reports) 10 ジョージ・ブラウン・コレクションの研究:石森秀三・林勲男
月刊みんぱく(2006年5月号):地球を集める ジョージ・ブラウン・コレクションその価値が輝くとき(PDF);石森 秀三