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Let’s have a catch-up

October 30, 2013

We’ve been very busy at Manchester Museum over the last month or so! Here’s an update of the big news and how you can get involved in some of the upcoming events…


Fragmentary Ancestors


Thursday 25 November saw the opening of our new exhibition, Fragmentary Ancestors.

In the 1980s reports came from villagers in Koma Land that figurines had been discovered, prompting the beginnings of official archaeological research in this area. After just a few years, work on the site was interrupted, until 2006 when new excavations were re-initiated under Professor Kankpeyeng (University of Ghana), with the assistance of Mr Samuel Nkumbaan (University of Ghana) and Mr Malik Saako (Ghana Museums and Monuments Board).


Koma Land is known colloquially as ‘overseas’ due to its remoteness and inaccessibility. However, this has meant that the land has remained relatively untouched and excavations of mounds in the area have yielded extraordinary finds!


These ambiguous objects are not fully understood, as they seem to be the remains of an ancient civilisation that has no connection to the current inhabitants of Koma Land. They take the shape of anthropomorphic creatures, and often come fragmented, which researchers believe could have been a deliberate result of ritual actions. CT scanning at Manchester University has also revealed that some of the figurines contain deep cavities, suggesting that these objects may have been used as receptacles for special substances. Through archaeological, anthropological and further scientific analysis, these figurines could be the key to unlocking some secrets of the past.


Koma-2-c-Alan-Seabright                                             Koma-3-c-Alan-Seabright                                              Koma-Figurine-c.Alan-Seabright

Images: Alan Seabright

Fragmentary Ancestors: Figurines from Koma Land, Ghana is the first exhibition that displays these significant objects alongside the important research that has resulted from a very beneficial partnership between the University of Manchester and the University of Ghana.


The potential meaning and functions of these objects are numerous and they offer a very exciting starting point for thinking about the lives and belief systems of an ancient Ghanaian people.


Take a trip to the 3rd floor to see these extraordinary objects and learn more about what they might tell us about the people who once lived in this remote Ghanaian region.


Fragmentary Ancestors 25 Oct 2013 to 5 May 2014

Free Entry


Related Events:

Collection Bites

Trading and Well-Being: The Materiality of Medicine and Religion at a Healers’ Market, Accra, Ghana

Wednesday 6 November, 1-2pm


In West Africa, healing combines both medicine and religion with specialist markets selling herbs and idols side by side. Drawing on extensive fieldwork in Ghana, PhD Archaeology student, Bryn Trevelyan James will open a conversation on the stories behind some fascinating objects.

Book on 0161 273 2648 or


Ancestors in Ancient Egypt: Images and Practice

Wednesday 4 December, 6-8pm


Join our Curator of Egypt and the Sudan, Dr Campbell Price in exploring the evidence of ancestor worship by ordinary Egyptians. This talk will investigate how images can be used to explain the fascinating, yet often overlooked, process and practice of ancestor worship.

Book on 0161 273 2648 or







The Vivarium


Come one, come all! The Vivarium is has now re-opened!



The amphibians and reptiles made a big entrance this weekend as their first exposure to the public coincided with our Big Saturday: World of Frogs. It was fantastic to see so many families here to check out the improvements we’ve made to the gallery and to say hello to our little friends. Encouraging a real interest in these amazing creatures is all part of the Museum’s desire and responsibility to use our resources in contributing to the protection and conservation of these species and their habitats.



The re-opening of The Vivarium marked the 50th anniversary of its original opening at Manchester Museum. As well as now providing much better displays and enhanced interpretation, the new set-up reveals more of the conservation work that currently takes place behind the scenes.



Images: Alan Seabright

The more we learn about these animals, the more they astound us. You won’t be disappointed by a trip to The Vivarium!


Related Events:

The Living Collection: Conservation in Action

Friday 1 Nov 2013, 1-2pm


Join Andrew Gray, our Curator of Herpetology, as he reveals how the Museum’s Vivarium and live animal collection behind the scenes actively contributes to amphibian conservation.


Wildlife Photography Course

Saturday 11 Jan 2014, 10am – 5pm

Take this rare opportunity to photograph Manchester Museum’s frogs and reptiles under the supervision of professional wildlife photographer, Chris Mattison.

Limited spaces. Book on 0161 273 2648 or

£80 (concessions available)


Scientific Journeys to the Amazon

Thursday 6 Feb 2014, 6-8pm


In this evening talk, Professor Richard Preziosi will describe the joys and setbacks of establishing a biology research station in Amazonian Ecuador.

Book on 0161 273 2648 or


Manchester Museum Book Club

Tuesday 18 Mar 2014, 5.30-6.30pm


Buy a glass of wine or cup of coffee, meet people and discuss books inspired by our Vivarium. This month’s book is The Aye Aye and I, by Gerald Durrell.








 Coral: Something Rich and Strange

Image: Paul Cliff

Our highly anticipated exhibition of coral objects will explore the enduring fascination with the material as a symbol and an inspiration for artists, cultures and societies across the centuries. How has coral been used in natural history, art and religion? And why is it worth protecting? These are all things we can find out at the exhibition or at our next After Hours (put it in your diary: Thursday 27 Feb 2014, 6.30pm), which will take this exhibition as the platform for some late night performances in the Museum.


Keep in touch for information of programmed events related to Coral: Something Rich and Strange


For our full calendar of events don’t forget you can always check out the website:


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