The Pitt Rivers Museum is the University of Oxford’s Museum of Anthropology and World Archaeology. It was founded in 1884 when General Augustus Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers, a pioneer archaeologist and keen collector, donated his collection of over 26,000 archaeological and ethnographic objects to the University. Today, the Museum is home to more than 700,000 objects and archival artefacts and welcomes around half a million visitors a year.
The collections are of extraordinary range and depth, comprising objects of historical, social and ritual significance, with works of art, technology, invention and design from all around the world. Unlike other ethnographic museums, the Pitt Rivers Museum exhibits its collections according to type, rather than by geographical area or time period. The Museum is used for teaching learners of all ages, not just students at the University, and carries out world-leading conservation and research. It is known for its innovative public programmes and collaborative work with both local communities and those from where the collections originate.
The Museum is loved by many and is widely regarded as one of the best of its kind. It is also a contested space that calls for innovative curation to engage with the more problematic aspects of its history. Rooted in Britain’s colonial past, it can be a difficult place for people to visit. Our work today focuses on inclusivity, working closely with communities and co-curating with cultural and academic leaders.
In an increasingly divided world and with so many people from so many communities, countries and backgrounds visiting, we want to be a place of personal relevance to every visitor. We want to be a place that inspires people to find new ways to look at things, new ways of thinking about things but also a space which cares for people as well as things