Object in Focus

21 March–17 July 2022
Hunterian Museum
Admission free

This display looks at three objects related to the use of snuff in The Hunterian collection: a bottle from Senegal, bottle from China and a box from Scotland.

On the African continent snuff bottles were often made from naturally occurring materials such as gourds, wood, animal horn and ivory. They were usually decorated or embellished, transforming familiar materials into luxurious objects to be used and admired.

Snuff bottles were first produced in China during the early 18th century. They were originally made for use by the emperor and court, but later became more widely popular. They were usually ornate, decorative containers made from materials such as coloured glass and jadeite.

The earliest European snuffboxes were made of carved wood, ivory or iron. In the 18th century snuffboxes were often made of silver and gold, with porcelain enamel. These precious jewel-like boxes were also often given as gifts to nobility, ambassadors, and courtiers.

The display has been planned and organised by students of two History of Art postgraduate courses (Object Biography and Collecting and Display).


  • Up to Snuff is at the Hunterian Museum until 17 July 2022.
  • Open Tuesday to Sunday 10am–5pm. Closed Monday. Please check our Opening Hours page before you visit.
  • Back to Exhibition Programme.