Ethnology is the study of peoples and cultures. The museum’s ethnographic collection comprises over 3,000 objects from Ancient Egypt, Africa, the Americas and Oceania. Many of the objects in the ethnology collections were acquired from collectors whilst others were donated by local people who had travelled abroad.

Much of our ethnographic collection can be seen in our World Stories gallery which was established in 1936. The arrangement, which remained largely untouched for over 70 years, was re-displayed in 2010 to include objects relating to the art, life and culture of peoples from Ancient Egypt, Africa, Amazonia, Peru, Japan, China, India, Polynesia and Australasia.

Key objects include the beautifully painted coffin of  Pa-en-akh-menu, bronze sculptures from Benin and netsuke from Japan.



This mummy is believed to be that of a boy aged between 13 and 14 years. He lived in  Egypt around 2,300 years ago during what is known as the Graeco-Roman period. The mummy was donated by a Mrs Higginbotham in 1885.


This 3,000 years old Ancient Egyptian painted coffin was used to protect the body of Pa-en-akh-menu, who worked at the temple of Amun in modern Luxor. Parts of it have been recycled from an earlier coffin because good quality wood was expensive in Egypt. The coffin was a gift from the Egypt Exploration Fund in 1905.


The museum is fortunate to have a good selection of ancient Peruvian pots. Many of them were collected and donated by William Smithies, a former resident of Warrington who emigrated to run a cotton factory in Peru in the late 19th century.