The Pitt Rivers Museum was founded in 1884 when Lt.-General Pitt Rivers, an influential figure in the development of archaeology and evolutionary anthropology, gave his collection to the University. His two conditions were that a museum was built to house it and that someone should be appointed to lecture in anthropology.
The Museum displays archaeological and ethnographic objects from all parts of the world. The General's founding gift contained more than 18,000 objects but there are now over half a million. Many were donated by early anthropologists and explorers. The extensive photographic and sound archives contain early records of great importance. Today the Museum is an active teaching department of the University of Oxford. It also continues to collect through donations, bequests, special purchases and through its students, in the course of their fieldwork.
Find out more about the online collection databases and access here.
The Museum holds archaeological and ethnographic objects from all parts of the world. Find out more about the object collections.
The photograph collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum are of international importance, indicated in their Designated Status in the UK government's scheme to recognise the international excellence and significance of museum collections. Find out more about the photograph collections.
The Museum's manuscript collections comprise the papers of notable early anthropologists and curators associated with the Museum. Find out more about the manuscript collections.
The Museum's sound collections contain unique historical field recordings of international importance. Find out more about the sound collections.
The Museum cares for a small amount of film material, some of which is unique and of significant historical importance. Find out more about the film collections.