Endangered Material Knowledge Programme (EMKP)


Dr Lissant Bolton
Director of EMKP and Keeper of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, British Museum

Dr Ceri Ashley
Head of EMKP

Nik Petek-Sargeant
EMKP Project Curator



The Endangered Material Knowledge Programme (EMKP) is a major programme to help preserve the knowledge of endangered material practices for future generations. Societies around the globe are changing at an unprecedented rate, and specialist, locally-informed knowledge is in danger of being lost - knowledge that has helped communities thrive in unique environmental, social and cultural contexts. The programme will document what we might term the ‘made world’ and how people use, build, make and repair the natural resources around them to create their distinctive societies, homes and spaces. The scope of this work will be potentially huge – material practices can range from special events, to the production and use of everyday household items like cooking implements, agricultural tools or clothes, as well the houses and buildings that people occupy.

EMKP is the first programme of its kind relating to objects, and will offer grants to researchers globally to undertake detailed fieldwork to record disappearing or endangered practices. Recipients of grants will be working collaboratively with local communities for significant periods, observing and recording the different material practices in detail. This may include a range of different media such as films, photographs, interviews, drawings, maps and illustrations. Once this material has been collated, it will be uploaded onto an open access digital database at the British Museum. This database will provide a storehouse for this endangered knowledge, as well as making it available to a much larger audience, including academics, the interested public, and the communities themselves. Through this intervention, this fast-disappearing knowledge will be preserved for those communities and for all humanity.

Generously supported by Arcadia (https://www.arcadiafund.org.uk); a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin – the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the British Museum will deliver this three-year programme of grants (2018-2021). The first call for grant applications will open on the 3rd December 2018, with funding for small grants (1 year grants, up to £15,000) and large grants (1-2 years, up to £70,000). Applications will be reviewed by a panel of experts. For more information on grants contact the Head of EMKP Dr. Ceri Ashley

“We are proud to support this grassroots effort to record the disappearing traditional knowledge and crafts of communities around the globe. The programme will celebrate these traditional skills, documenting them for future generations. We hope that the recordings, which will be freely available through the British Museum’s website, will bring pride to the communities and inspiration to the world.”

Lisbet Rausing, Co-founder of Arcadia

For grant applications, please see: https://britishmuseum.submittable.com/

Opens 3rd December 2018

For more information, please click here.

For submission guidelines please click here and for frequently asked questions about the application process, please click here.