Mystery Donors

Today Dumfries Museum no longer collects material from other cultures, unless it has a strong local connection or a unique story to tell.  However, our reserve collection contains many interesting items from all over the world collected by our predecessors.  This exhibition has given us the opportunity to re-visit these items and examine their role in the history of Japan.

Miss Dorothy Sandeman

Although it is not known where all of the Japanese items in the Dumfries Museum collection came from, some can be traced to a donation in 1954 by Miss Dorothy Sandeman, from the south side of Glasgow.  A few of the highlights of her collection are the inrō, the lacquer teapot, the ceramic flask with men catching fish, and the scroll painting of the pigeons.

So far, a connection between Dorothy Sandeman and Dumfries has not been found.  There may be a possible link with the Sandeman family from Perth, who were well-known patrons of the arts and in 1898 had a public library named in their honour.  The family was involved in textile manufacturing, and the distilling and importing of alcohol, and, whether or not they are related to Dorothy, these kinds of trades are often how art from overseas ends up in Scottish collections.

Miss Helen Murray

Another group of Japanese items was donated to Dumfries Museum in the 1950s by Miss Helen Murray, Miss M Murray and the late Mrs Murray.  They  were registered as living in the west end and south side of Glasgow.  The bronze mirror and the matchlock gun are the most eye-catching of their donations.  Additional Japanese items from the Murray collection that are not currently on display include lacquer ware, a vase, a large incense vessel and other ceramics.

Due to the common occurrence of their surname, the Murray family and their link to this area has not yet been identified.  As well as Japanese items, Helen Murray also donated objects from China, Tibet, and Mongolia, suggesting that someone in her family was well travelled.

If you have any information about our donors please let the staff at the Information Desk know.

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