Historic Adventurers

In 2013, Scotland celebrated the 200th birthday of one of our most epic adventurers, Dr David Livingstone. Let's find out more about him and other explorers who may have inspired our contemporary adventurers - each of them collected remarkable objects from their expeditions, many of which are in our collection and bring these historic personalities to life!

David Livingstone (1813-73) 


From humble beginnings to national hero, David Livingstone began his working-life in a cotton mill, where he scrimped and saved to study medicine and divinity, before becoming a missionary in Africa. He had a vision to end the slave trade and to open up Africa to Christianity and lawful commerce. He was the first European to cross the African continent from west to east. Whilst he made few converts to Christianity, his success as an explorer and his work as an abolitionist secured for him a lasting reputation. This portrait by Alexander Craig is located in Glasgow Museums Resource Centre where it can be viewed on request or seen on the public tours.

This is a half-hull model of the Lady Nyassa, a passenger-exploratory steamship built in 1861 by Tod & McGregor, Glasgow, for Dr David Livingstone. Shallow-draft iron steamship built in sections for exploring the Zambesi and Shire rivers and Lake Nyassa. This builder’s design model is 1:48 scale and was donated by D. & W. Henderson in 1962. This object is housed in Glasgow Museums Resource Centre and can be viewed on request or seen on the public tours.

David Livingstone's map, bible and telescope from the time of his many African explorations are on display at St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, and are kindly on loan from National Trust for Scotland.

The consular cap was worn by David Livingstone at Ujiji, 1871. This style of cap, worn by officers in the Navy, was favoured by Livingstone as best protection from the sun. This is believed to be the one he doffed at his famous meeting with Henry Morton Stanley when he said the immortal words ‘Dr Livingstone I presume?’ On display at St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art 

Marion Scott Stevenson (1871-1930)

‘The Angel of Africa’ who worked in Kenya from 1907 to 1926 with the Church of Scotland Mission amongst the Kikuyu people.

Marion decided to work out in the bush alongside the women. Over 19 years she developed strong personal friendships with many Kikuyu villagers.  Although she found the life and culture alien and strange at first, Marion soon adapted and she developed a deep respect for the Kikuyu people and their culture reflected in the very personal nature of the collection.  Her brother passed on the collections that she brought back to Glasgow on her furloughs in 1910, 1912, 1916, and 1924. A large part of the collection consists of personal gifts from Kikuyu friends who called her Bibi. The collection is housed in Glasgow Museums Resource Centre  and can be viewed on request or seen on the public tours.

Also among Marion Scott Stevenson's collections held by Glasgow is this picture rattle and gourd [in collection 1916.61] decorated with engraved figures, cowry shells, blue and white beads, pieces of chain from British East Africa. This object is housed in Glasgow Museums Resource Centre and can be viewed on request or seen on the public tours.

Annie Royle Taylor (1855-1922) 


An English explorer and missionary to China who was the first Western woman to visit Tibet, along the way encountering no end of challenges - bandits who stole their horses and threat of murder… She collected myriad objects from her expeditions which form part of Glasgow's World Cultures collection which are housed in Glasgow Museums Resource Centre and can be viewed on request or seen on the public tours. 

The image on the right shows a tea bag made of hide with smaller bags attached for salt and soda. This is from a collection of ethnographical objects from Tibet collcted by Annie Royle Taylor. This object is housed in Glasgow Museums Resource Centre and can be viewed on request or seen on the public tours.

Mrs Beatrice Heywood

We know very little about this woman who donated 53 objects to Glasgow Museums from her travels around the world before 1933. We do know this, however: she took over the firm, Bruges & Evans - Suppliers of Oil and Petrol and other motor supplies - at the Boulevard, Duntocher, Glasgow as the sole remaining Partner and in her own account on 12 September 1932.
Pictured above is a native calabash musical box or sansa, used by the Africans in the interior, near Knysna and Keur Crooms River. Gourd resonator edged with fabric, wooden board supporting 13 metal tongues held in place by metal bar and wire, carved into side of board 'loqwonit'?. Collected on a world tour by Mrs Beatrice Heywood and stored in Glasgow Museums Resource Centre where it can be viewed on request or seen on the public tours.​


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