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Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Rose Mwanja Nkaale, Nelson Abiti and MAA's Rachel Hand look at a computer screen showing the MAA database. A Ugandan object is visible on the table in the background; they are in the Centre of Material Culture, MAA's off-site storage facility.

Image 1: Rose Mwanja Nkaale and Nelson Abiti from the Uganda Museum and Rachel Hand from the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology looking at objects at the Centre for Material Culture and on the MAA database, November 2022. © Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, University of Cambridge


In November MAA hosted Rose Mwanja Nkaale and Nelson Abiti from the Uganda Museum and Derek Peterson from the University of Michigan as part of the Repositioning the Uganda Museum project. The project team and MAA staff spent an intensive and rewarding week looking at more than 100 artefacts, historic photographs and archives, which helped all of us better understand the important late nineteenth and early twentieth century collections of Ugandan cultural heritage more deeply.

Image 2: Drum donated by Sir Harry H. Johnston. MAA E 1901.248


The ethnography collections from Uganda at MAA have been photographed and recatalogued during the Stores Move project and updated information with images can now be accessed by anyone, anywhere through our online catalogue. Research by members of the Stores Move team and staff at MAA through the recent Contested African Heritage project has helped to understand the contexts of acquisition and the objects' subsequent histories of care, cataloguing and display over more than a century in Cambridge.


Image 3: Jjembe. A power object made of a leopard's claw bound in leather. Donated by Sir Apolo Kaggwa, Katikiro of the Kingdom of Buganda. Baganda people. MAA E 1903.474


Our colleagues from Kampala and Michigan brought all their knowledge and experience of these objects, their manufacture, use and contemporary relevance to the families and communities they work with. MAA staff learned a great deal and we discussed in detail how particular collections should be cared for and documented while in the museum.

At the end of the visit MAA shared digital copies of hundreds of photographs from the Cambridge collections with the Uganda Museum which will be accessible to staff and researchers in Kampala.

Image 4: Group portrait of dignitaries and chiefs attending a Council. Apolo Kaggwa, Katikiro of Uganda, stands in the centre. Photograph by John Roscoe, MAA LS.139255.TC1


Through 2023, we will continue to work together, towards the return of artefacts now cared for by MAA for community liaison, study and display in Kampala.

Image 5: Highly glazed ceramic milk pot. Banyoro people. Collected by Reverend John Roscoe. MAA ROS 1920.157