The Museum holds archaeological and ethnographic objects from all parts of the world. It was founded in 1884 when General Pitt Rivers, an influential figure in the development of archaeology and evolutionary anthropology, gave his collection to the University.
The founding gift contained more than 20,000 objects, but there are now around 300,000. Many were donated by early anthropologists, colonial administrators, missionaries and explorers, but the Museum has continued to collect through donations, bequests and special purchases, as well as through its staff and students in the course of their fieldwork.
World Archaeology at the Pitt Rivers Museum: a characterization
This book introduces the range, history and significance of the archaeological collections of the Pitt Rivers Museum, and sets out priorities for future research. Through 29 newly commissioned essays written by a specialist team, the volume explores more than 136,000 artefacts from 145 countries, from the Stone Age to the modern period, from England to Easter Island.