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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 4

The Birmingham Daily Post, 26th June 1876

page 27

The Birmingham Daily Post, 26th June 1876.

The interest which has been manifested in the proposal to erect, on a very suitable site on the Thames Embankment in London, an Imperial Museum for India and the colonies, is an indication of the healthy change which has taken place in the estimate held by the public generally of the importance of affairs connected with our Indian and colonial empire. Dr. J. Forbes Watson, in an ably written paper, advocates the erection on the site referred to, of two independent museums—one for India, and the other for the colonies—the Colonial Museum to consist of sections representing separately the principal colonies, provision being made at the same time for the India Library, and for the establishment of a special Colonial Library and Reading-room; the buildings likewise to contain the rooms of the Royal Asiatic Society, and of the Royal Colonial Institute. It is also proposed to concentrate the business of the colonies in the same building, by placing in it the offices of the Crown agents and of the agents-general for the colonies. The two museums, he urges, would form together an Imperial Museum, representing the whole empire. Dr. Watson endeavours to show that the plan he proposes is far preferable to the alternative one of allowing the existing Indian Museum to remain in the galleries at South Kensington, and of relegating the colonial collections to galleries at a considerable distance. He points out the serious inconvenience which would arise from the location of the Indian and Colonial Museums at South Kensington, as their position should be as near as possible to the places in which the business of the classes likely to consult them is already localised, while the additional circumstance should be kept in mind, that if the museum building is to be in a suitable locality for the offices of the colonial and emigration agents, it must not be removed out of the business quarters of London. The proposed site on the Thames Embankment manifestly meets all these requirements, and it is an important consideration that while the colonies are not likely to support a proposal to place their museum at South Kensington, there are grounds for believing that they will respond heartily if the Embankment site can be obtained. Dr. Watson bases his advocacy of the new institution, or rather combination of institutions, mainly on the ground that the steady and remarkable development of the commercial and financial relations between England and its possessions is at the same time calculated to bring home, even to those who are insensible to the political bearing of the question, the great material advantages which result from the connection between England and the colonies and India.