Collections: Material Culture


Our many collections are an excellent starting point for children to explore the history and richness of other cultures.  Although our sessions are aimed at KS2 they can be adapted so please call us to discuss your requirements. Sessions last approximately 90 minutes.


Our led session focuses on aspects of everyday life by looking at genuine ancient Egyptian objects before moving on to mummification, exploring the processes that the ancient Egyptians went through in order to achieve their goal of eternity in the afterlife, including the ‘weighing of the heart’ ceremony.


Using our fantastic and authentically reconstructed Devon farmhouse, find out about life in the Victorian era.  Compare and contrast their lives with our lives today – what has changed and what has remained almost the same? Learn about the tasks they had to perform and imagine what character you would prefer to be if you went back in time and became a Victorian.

Update: due to changes in the national curriculum we are in the process of revising our led session for this gallery.

Schools are currently using this authentically recreated Victorian Devon Farmhouse to successfully plan and deliver their own activities.  Torquay Museum welcomes suggestions from teachers if a led session is preferred. If we have a significant number of requests we will incorporate your ideas to develop a core led session that we feel will be appropriate to as many schools as possible.  Please note that we currently do not have the capacity to deliver tailor-made sessions for individual schools. Teachers are welcome to do a preliminary visit to help plan their own activities or suggest ideas for a led session for this gallery.


Did you know that Torquay was once home to a number of fascinating adventurers who set out to explore the world?  This session focuses on Percy Harrison-Fawcett – rumoured to be the real Indiana Jones who inspired the films.  We think about and discuss what makes an explorer, look at what Fawcett took with him on his adventures and discover some of the wild and scary scrapes he got himself into!  His biggest – and last – adventure was to South America to find the ‘lost’ city of ‘Z’.  He never returned and his disappearance is a mystery to this day…



As well as Fawcett, the Explorers Gallery also has artefacts and information about Frank Browning - a member of Scott’s team on the race to the pole against Amundsen - as well as information about ‘Ruffian Dick’ (Sir Richard Burton), who set out to find the source of the River Nile.  Richard Burton also translated the ‘Arabian Nights’ stories and wrote many books and papers about Africa, Arabia and South America.


There is a short introductory video about the explorers and a seating area to view it from.  This is a great starting point for children before they put on their metaphorical explorers hats and find themselves, about other cultures in the gallery.


The museum is home to a wealth of fascinating objects and imagery from different cultures around the world.  Amongst the religious artefacts there are Tibetan prayer wheels, Hindu deities, Buddha statues and a beautiful 1300 year old stone carving of the Hindu sun god Surya.  There are displays of weaponry, objects referencing writing and communication and a collection about communities, social organisation and hierarchy, which could link very well with the Neolithic (stone-age) information in our Ancestors Gallery.


The museum houses a superb collection of Egyptian objects and artefacts, many of which are on display in our Explorers Gallery. The collection includes some fascinating items, including the mummified body of a young boy from around 600 BC and a coffin, complete with inscription dating to the New Kingdom.  This is acknowledged as being one of the finest coffins in a regional Museum in the UK. The mummy of the boy has been scanned and x-rayed to determine his age and the mummification technique, along with this information, helped to create a life-like reconstruction of the boy, which now stands in gallery. Recent research on his coffin has shown it to be of very high status.  It appears to have been reused from the early 18th Dynasty, whose previous occupant may have been the child of Royalty.

Other items on display also include a mummified hand, bronzes, amulets and shabti figures, including a wooden example from the tomb of Pharaoh Seti I, accurately dated to 1291 - 1278 BC. Recently rediscovered are six small steatite scarabs from Tell Fara, a site excavated by Flinders Petrie

Please contact the museum to arrange a free preliminary visit to the Torquay Museum to help you plan your self- guided session.


There are a number of interactive and hands-on activities in the gallery:

  • Join Percy Fawcett and his friend Stanley Snake to find ‘The Lost Treasure of the Ancients’ as an explorer in our exciting quiz trail.
  • Discover the hidden clues with Harrison, our Lego® hero in The Explorers Game, then crack the code to open the safe and claim your prize.

Other Sessions:

As well as our general collections sessions we also provide led sessions based on the Geopark and natural history/science, which provide an excellent starting point from which to explore the stone age and rocks and fossils in a local context.


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