The much-loved Pitt Rivers Museum is unlike any other. Founded in 1884, it houses within an atmospheric building more than 500,000 objects, photographs and manuscripts from all over the world, and from all periods of human existence. Within these are exceptional objects of ritual significance, and objects made for tourists or trade.
The Museum has consciously cultivated its characteristic layout: artefacts are arranged by type into a ‘democracy of things’, rather than by time or region. This reveals fascinating distinctions and parallels across cultures, and encourages questions about the ways in which humanity tackles problems, and creates, understands and embraces life across the world.
We have bold aims: to be a pioneering institution challenging and crossing boundaries; to influence the lives of a diverse local, national and international audience; and to be a place of welcome, where difficult conversations can take place alongside enjoyment, awe and surprise. Read our strategic plan for more information.
The Museum is a department of the University of Oxford, and members of staff use our collections in their teaching and research.
Find out more about the history of the Museum, including how it got its name and how the objects were acquired.
The Museum is overseen by the Board of Visitors.
Annual reports and strategic plan
View previous annual reports