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Aztec clay stamp in Exeter
Aztec clay stamp in Exeter
Study it online or see it for real in the World Cultures Gallery of The Royal Albert Memorial Museum...
‘Aztec clay stamp’
Central and South American display case at Royal Albert Memorial Museum Exeter

Aztec Objects in Museums Collections Survey

It’s out! Thanks to the steadfast efforts of Newcastle University Museum Studies postgraduate student Stacey Home, we’re finally (summer 2013) able to upload the results of her survey, carried out last year, of Aztec objects in museums around Britain and of public attitudes towards the Aztecs (Mexica). Not only is this the first such survey - that we’re aware of - of its kind in this country, and the results by themselves will be of wide interest, but we are already planning to build on them in a rather innovative way. WATCH THIS SPACE...! (Written/compiled by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

One of the objects in the collections of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter
One of the objects in the collections of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter (Click on image to enlarge)

NOTES!
• This survey is by no means comprehensive; it does however contain some delightful surprises...
• You can read the full results by clicking on the PDF file at the bottom of the page
• You can read more of the background to the attitudes survey - and indeed see the original survey questions - by following the link (below) to our ‘Getting Involved’ page.

Clay figure of Tlaloc (rain god), from the collections of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter
Clay figure of Tlaloc (rain god), from the collections of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter (Click on image to enlarge)

Here are Stacey Home’s conclusions:-

After starting my project about the Aztecs back in April 2012, I am very pleased to be able to share the results on Mexicolore. The main aims of the project were to find out about Aztec collections in UK museums and people’s attitudes to the Aztecs. Some of the attitude surveys were answered by visitors to the Mexicolore website, the others were answered by the general public.

Lots of lovely people responded to the attitude surveys and many curators took the time to send details about their Aztec objects...

‘Aztec necklace’, Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth
‘Aztec necklace’, Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth (Click on image to enlarge)

Curator Surveys

• Of over 1500 UK museums who were contacted, fifteen had Aztec objects in their collection
• The curator surveys uncovered new and interesting objects such as an Aztec necklace at Bournemouth Museum (see pic)
• A few curators said that they had some Aztec objects but would need to do more research to be sure
• Only four of the 15 museums have Aztec objects on display in the museum. Some curators said that they would love to do an Aztec exhibition but they don’t have enough objects or money to do so
• Most curators wrote back to say they didn’t have any Aztec objects but that they thought the project was very interesting!

Some of the most famous codices in the world from Mexico are housed in Britain’s museums and libraries...
Some of the most famous codices in the world from Mexico are housed in Britain’s museums and libraries... (Click on image to enlarge)

Museums containing Aztec objects and number held:-

Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery: 80
Bolton Museum: 91
Bristol City Museum: 100
• British Museum, London: 530
Colchester and Ipswich Museums: 1
Derby Museums and Galleries: 39
• Horniman Museum, London: 170
• Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow: 45
• King’s Museum, University of Aberdeen: 81
Leeds Museums and Galleries: 20
Liverpool World Museum: 75
• Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology, Cambridge: 190
• Powysland Museum, Welshpool: 19
• Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter: 15
• Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth: 1.

Not Aztec, but a beautiful huipil from Guerrero, Mexico; Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter
Not Aztec, but a beautiful huipil from Guerrero, Mexico; Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter (Click on image to enlarge)

Attitude Surveys

• The surveys asked whether people had heard about Aztec culture; most people said they had heard about the Aztecs but some knew more about them than others.
• The people that answered the Mexicolore surveys said they knew the most about the Aztecs compared to the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Chinese. The general public felt they knew the most about the Romans and Egyptians and knew the least about Aztec culture.
• The surveys showed that people have varied knowledge about Aztec culture. Human Sacrifice, gold and chocolate were the most common answers to the public surveys. Some people expressed a more advanced level of knowledge of Aztec mentioning Moctezuma and Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital in their answers. Some of the people who answered the public surveys were confused about where the Aztecs came from and some got the Aztecs mixed up with the Incas. Mexicolore visitors mentioned several times that the Aztecs called themselves the Mexica.
• 75% of people said they would want to visit an Aztec exhibition if given the chance. Most people said this was because they were interested in the Aztecs and wanted to learn more.

Picture sources:-

• Photos from the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter (inc. main photo, top, of the Central and South American display case) courtesy of Tony Eccles, Curator of Ethnography
• Photo of the Aztec necklace, courtesy of Duncan Walker, Collections Officer (Information), and © The Russell–Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Bournemouth
• Image (fol. 2) from the Codex Mendoza (original in the Bodleian Library, Oxford) scanned from our own copy of the 1938 James Cooper Clark facsimile edition, London.

This article was uploaded to the Mexicolore website on Jul 29th 2013

Acrobat logo Download the full results of the collections and attitudes survey

Background to the attitude survey on the Aztecs

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