In June this year a new grant programme will be launched at the British Museum. It has been established to fund the ethnographic documentation of knowledge associated with objects and the built environment, with a regional focus on the global south, the documentation to be made available through an open access digital repository. The programme, the Endangered Material Knowledge Programme (EMKP), is a parallel programme to the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme hosted at SOAS, and both are supported by the Arcadia Fund. In the light of this programme, this plenary considers the relationship between what people know, and what people say about objects. Three speakers will take different perspectives on this topic, reflecting on issues and opportunities raised by the programme.