The Cuming Museum was originally founded by Richard Cuming (1777-1870), and his son Henry Syer Cuming (1817-1902). Richard was born in Devon, but at 2 years of age the family moved to Walworth Road, approximately to where the McDonald’s is now. Richard was given three fossils and an old Indian Mogul by his aunt, which kick-started his interest in collecting. He described it as the ‘nucleus of his vast and varied collections of natural and artificial curiosities.’
The pair began collecting artefacts from around 1780 to 1900. They collected a varied range of objects, ranging from valuable artefacts to paper bread bags. They fairly acquired their relics and always gave money or traded in order to obtain them.
The museum was only opened to the public in 1906; however during this time the exhibits were from the Cuming family’s collection only. It wasn’t long however until donators began to rapidly add to the museum’s collection. A large collection of objects was donated by Edward Lovett in the 1920s, and quickly became one of the most popular collections in the museum due to the large amount of press coverage received.
Presently, the museum holds a collection of over 25,000 artefacts that includes archaeology, artwork, textiles, prints, currency, and ancient Egyptian objects. Because of the wide range of objects from all over the world, the collection gives awareness into the history of many cultures and regions, including Southwark.