Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford

The second port of call on our whirlwind stop-over to Oxford was the Pitt Rivers Museum, which I last visited some 25 years ago with my mum whilst researching masks for an A Level art project on the grotesque. The only things I could remember about the place was the huge totem pole and the tiny shrunken heads.

The sheer volume of archaeological and ethnographic objects displayed in Victorian glass cabinets is almost overwhelming when you first walk in. The artefacts are displayed typologically, which is a really interesting way to view objects from around the world together. Like many museums, this one began when Lieutenant-General Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers (1827-1900) gave his collection of around 30,000 objects to the University of Oxford in 1884. There are now a quarter of a million objects, most of which seem to be on display!

The Museum

The Artefacts

The lighting is quite low in the museum to protect the more fragile items, which made photographing things a little tricky at times. There were a lot of reflections from spotlights to work around, as well as trying not to photograph my self in the glass too much!

Masks & Performance


The Dead

Puppets, Toys & Games

Clothing, Shields, Armour & Weapons