- Old friends are best. John Selden
Visit Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford
The Pitt Rivers Museum displays archaeological and ethnographic objects from all parts of the world and all time periods. It is truly a global museum. The museum is also a teaching and research institution and the curators are also university lecturers in either cultural anthropology or prehistoric archaeology. A number of degree courses are taught to both graduate and undergraduate studies.
The museum was founded in 1884 when General Pitt Rivers, an influential figure in the development of archaeology and evolutionary anthropology, gave his collection to the University of Oxford. Find out a little more about him here and a great deal more about him here.
There were more than 26,000 objects in 1884, but now there are over half a million in the museum. Many were donated by early anthropologists and explorers. The collection includes extensive photographic, film, manuscript and sound collections.
Details of some of the important events that are associated with the history of the Pitt Rivers Museum can be found here. The museum has always been housed in a small three galleried building at the rear of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History (to which, at the beginning, it was formally attached). You can find out a great deal about the connections of people and events that led to the museum we know today here
Since the founding collection moved to Oxford there have been many curatorial staff working in the museum including Henry Balfour, Beatrice Blackwood, and many others.
Today the museum is a dynamic, forward-looking institution with many connections to source communities throughout the world (see, for example, the recent projects with the Haida People of Canada).