Pitt Rivers Museum
With a National Art Pass you get
The more you see, the more we do.
The National Art Pass lets you enjoy free entry to hundreds of museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, while raising money to support them.
This unique museum is a treasure trove of more than 600,000 objects, photographs and manuscripts from across the world and all periods of human existence.
To celebrate this incredible collection, we asked writer, comedian and museum enthusiast Josie Long to speak to some of the staff and volunteers at the museum, to find out more about the stories behind the objects on display.
In the film above, you can join Josie to delve deep into this amazing place and find out more about what the museum has to offer. From a tale about a witch in a bottle, to a pair of salmon-skin shoes, to a Tahitian mourner's costume, it's a chance to explore this special collection, consider the history behind it, and find out more about how the team at Pitt Rivers are rethinking this colonial legacy, based on developing closer relationships with many of the indigenous communities from which the objects originate.
This is the first film in our new Art Pass Recommends series, so please keep an eye out for more deep dives into some of the most fascinating museum collections from around the UK. We hope they will bring you closer to the places you love and perhaps also inspire you to start compiling a list of venues to visit with your pass when museums do finally reopen.
We’ve also partnered with the Field Recordings podcast to bring you an atmospheric clip from the sound archive of the Pitt Rivers Museum. Transport yourself to the Congolese rainforest with 'Rain and thunder', recorded by musicologist Louis Sarno.
More about the Pitt Rivers Museum
Unusually, exhibits at the museum are displayed by type rather than by time or region, creating a ‘democracy of things’. This novel approach was instigated by General Pitt Rivers himself, who donated his collection to the University of Oxford in 1884, and it reveals fascinating distinctions and parallels across cultures.
With musical instruments, weapons, masks, textiles, jewellery and tools from all places and times on show, there are surprises around every corner. Among the many highlights are gold torcs from the richest Bronze Age hoard in Scotland, and reindeer underwear worn by Evenki women in north-eastern Siberia.
With anthropology and world archaeology collections rivalled only by the British Museum, Pitt Rivers continues to add to and interrogate its exhibits. Look out for a USB stick excavated from a muddy London playing field in 2012 which illustrates how we are all constantly creating archaeology, and which also asks how such finds will be interpreted in future.
Pitt Rivers Museum was a finalist for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2019.