The idea of the school museum as an active resource for object-based learning played an important but now neglected part in programmes of educational reform during the closing decades of the nineteenth century and the opening decades of the twentieth. In this article we focus on the role of the Kew Museum of Economic Botany in supplying schools with botanical specimens and artefacts for their own museums during this period, to support a broad variety of curricular agendas, from nature study to geography and beyond. The evidence suggests that this scheme was remarkably popular, with demand among teachers for museum objects outstripping supply, and increasingly being met in other ways. Seen from the perspective of Kew, the distribution of specimens, artefacts, and visual materials to schools was a way of extending the ethos of economic botany into the classroom. For the teachers who requested specimens in large numbers, and the pupils who studied and handled them, however, such objects may have had other meanings and uses. More broadly, we propose new avenues for study that can help us to better appreciate the ways in which museum objects, expertise, and practices moved across professional, institutional, and increasingly global boundaries in this period.