This volume brings together for the first time the most significant papers on the interpretation of objects and collections and examines how people relate to material culture and why they collect things. The first section of the book discusses the interpretation of objects, setting the philosophical and historical context of object interpretation. Papers are included which discuss objects variously as historical documents, functioning material, and as semiotic texts, as well as those which examine the politics of objects and the methodology of object study. The second section, on the interpretation of collections, looks at the study of collections in their historical and conceptual context. Many topics are covered such as the study of collecting to structure individual identity, its affect on time and space and the construction of gender. There are also papers discussing collection and ideology, collection and social action and the methodology of collection study. This unique anthology of articles and extracts will be of inestimable value to all students and professionals involved in the interpretation of objects and collections.