skip to content

Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology


MAA cares for works of art and artefacts from Asia, Africa, Oceania and native America, and those representing British and European folklore. Among the museum’s most famous collections are those deriving from the voyages of Captain Cook to the Pacific in the 1770s. The museum’s founding curator, Anatole von Hügel spent several years in Fiji and assembled the single most important collection of nineteenth-century Fijian art outside Fiji itself, and went on to be highly energetic, soliciting collections and donations from fieldworkers and travellers in many parts of the world. Major field collections include those made by Alfred Haddon during the 1898 Cambridge expedition to the Torres Strait, by Northcote W. Thomas from Nigeria and Sierra Leone, by Charles Hose from Sarawak, by Gregory Bateson from the Sepik River, Papua New Guinea, and by Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf from the Nagas.


A view into the Maudslay Gallery which displays World Cultures collections, from the Andrews Gallery

The staff working in the Anthropology section of the museum are:

Dr Mark Elliott, Senior Curator

Rachel Hand, Collections Manager for Anthropology

Guey-Mei Hsu, Collections Assistant

Dr Anita Herle, Emeritus Professor and Senior Research Fellow

Contact the Anthropology Team

If you have questions about the Anthropology collections at MAA, please contact the Collections Manager, Rachel Hand.

We are currently experiencing issues with the email contact links across our website. Should you wish to contact us please email

Call for Papers: Museum Ethnographers Group (MEG) conference, 18-19 April 2023

Un-disciplining the Museum? Changing Practices of Care, Knowledge and Display

The Museum Ethnographers Group (MEG) Conference and AGM will take place at the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, University of Cambridge, 18-19 April 2023. The MEG meeting will coincide with MAA's special exhibition COLOUR: Art, Science & Power (26 July 2022 - 23 April 2023), and explores the museum as a bringing together of different academic and professional disciplines, and the tensions and confluences emerging in between. We will think about practices of care and knowledge production, and how these are changing or need to change.

We welcome proposals for presentations (up to 20 minutes) and short updates (5 minutes) on current projects. Please send to by Tuesday 31 January 2023 at 5pm.

Find out more >>


Detail of leather necklace from Sierra Leone, collected in 1914 by Northcote Thomas. The charms are attached to a length of black braided leather cord with red leather knots at the end for securing around the neck.  The contents of the charms are unknown.

MAA Z 14531. Photography by George Agbo.

Explore the World Cultures archive...

Fiji: Chiefs & Governors

Explore the hub for the Fiji Chiefs and Governors exhibition and research

Necklace of eight ivory figures, interspersed with smaller decorative 'teeth' type figures.

The Northcote W. Thomas Project

Explore part of the extraordinary collection of Northcote Whitridge Thomas (1868-1936), which encompasses over 2000 objects and historical photographs from Nigeria and Sierra Leone. The pieces you can see here were accumulated during Thomas' fieldwork in Edo State, Nigeria during 1909-1913.

Two million years of human history. One million artefacts. Countless astonishing stories.