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.
Unusually, exhibits 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 knickers 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 is a finalist for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2019. The winning museum will be announced at a ceremony at the Science Museum in London on Wednesday 3 July 2019.