Living Cultures, Living Planet & Guardian Lions

The Museum is currently looking forward to the opening of the brand new Living Planet gallery in early 2011. This exciting redevelopment will balance the beauty of the Museum’s recently restored Victorian internal design with a radical reinterpretation of the natural environment collections.

As a museum we are always keen to reveal the connections  bewteen the seemingy very different collections and the new Living Planet gallery has provided a perfect opportunity to do this. I have recently been working with Henry McGhie, Head of Collections and Curator of Zoology, to select relevant objects from the Living Cultures collection for incluion in the new gallery.

The gallery will explore the impact of nature on human culture and popular imagination. One animal that has captivated humankind for thousands of years is the majestic lion. The lion is a symbol of strength, boldness and courage. It is little wonder then that lions, or specifically  guardian lions, made from stone or metal, protect the entrance to Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines or even the homes of powerful individuals throughout South-East Asia. In the Living Cultures collection we have a stunning bronze guardian lion from Japan donated in 1958 by Robert Wylie Lloyd. It’s hoped that this sculpture will be included in the new gallery.

Bronze guardian lion, Japan. The Manchester Museum Living Cultures collection. 2010.

To keep up to date with the development of the Living Planet gallery visit Henry McGhie’s blog at

Stephen Terence Welsh

Curator of Living Cultures



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