Charles Bell Tibet collection

Explore the collection

Object from Charles Bell collection

In the Charles Bell collection you can explore a wide range of objects including those used in religion, writing and the home, from Buddhist statues to photo albums and from swords to beer jugs. Alongside this, you will see how Charles Bell's objects connected him to many Himalayan people, places and events.

About the collection

In September 1949, a letter arrived at Liverpool Museum (now World Museum) from the Director of Newbury Museum asking if we would like to take in a, 'large collection of very fine Tibetan curios once belonging to the late Sir Charles Bell'. The arrival of the Charles Bell collection at Liverpool Museum was to spark a major interest in collecting Tibet, which still continues today.

The Charles Bell collection of nearly 200 objects and photo albums is an important archive of the Anglo-Tibetan encounter of the early 20th century. Bell was the Political Officer for Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet from 1908 -1918 and having received an invitation from the thirteenth Dalai Lama he undertook a special mission to Lhasa in 1920-21; his first and only visit to the capital of Tibet.

Photograph of Charles Bell

Left - Charles Bell travelling to Tibet (he is on the right) . Right - studio portrait of Charles Bell

The Bell collection now found at World Museum is a record of Bell's time in the Himalayas. It provides us with an insight both into Bell's work for the British India government and his personal and professional friendships with many Sikkimese, Bhutanese and Tibetan men, including Palhese, Barmiok Lama and the thirteenth Dalai Lama himself.

Charles Bell's Tibet collection is online for you to explore Charles Bell's connections to many Himalayan people, places, objects and events.