The Museum

Journalists should contact for further details and images concerning the Museum, its collections, research projects, events and activities. Press Releases.

Multaka-Oxford Project starts at Pitt Rivers Museum and Museum of History of Science

Multaka-Oxford is a project funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund until September 2019. The project focuses on two collections at the museums: Islamic astronomical instruments at the Museum of the History of Science, and a recent acquisition of textiles from the Middle East at the Pitt Rivers. The project aims to involve displaced people in the daily work of the museums through the creation of inclusive volunteer opportunities, empowering them to deliver all aspects of the project - from collections research to public engagement. Further information.

Pitt Rivers Museum wins Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund award

The Pitt Rivers Museum and the Museum of the History of Science have been successful in securing a major grant in support of a programme which will enable those affected by forced migration to play an important role through curation and public engagement with relevant collections. The Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund has awarded £120,000 as part of its drive to fund collections development projects for social impact.  Further information.

Hélène La Rue Scholarship in Music

St Cross College is inviting applications for the Hélène La Rue Scholarship in Music from students who will begin studying for a postgraduate research degree in Music at the University of Oxford in the academic year 2018-2019. Preference may be given to a research topic related to the musical collections at the University, including those at the Pitt Rivers Museum. The scholarship commemorates Hélène La Rue, who was Lecturer/Curator of Music at the Pitt Rivers Museum and the Bate Collection of Music until her death in 2006. Further information.

Repatriation of Māori Ancestral Remains

On Wednesday 17 May 2017, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford handed over to representatives of the Karanga Repatriation Programme of Te Papa Tongarewa (The National Museum of New Zealand) the Māori ancestral remains previously cared for at the University of Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum. The remains comprise seven toi moko (‘ancestral mummified heads’), and three kōiwi tangata (parts of a skull). The handover ceremony was attended by Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM, QSO, KStJ, the High Commissioner of New Zealand to the United Kingdom, colleagues from Te Papa Tongarewa, and members of Ngāti Rānana (the London Māori Club). Also in attendance were senior officers and members of the University; representatives from the British Museum, the Natural History Museum (London), and the University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and and Archaeology; and members of the Museum’s staff.  More information.

Forest + Found Visiting Maker Residency

We are pleased to announce Forest + Found as our 2017 VERVE Visiting Maker Residency duo. Forest + Found artists Abigail Booth and Max Bainbridge are a fine art collaboration who focus on material and process. As VERVE Artists in Residence Max and Abi's work will be inspired by the archaeology redisplays, looking at the changing forms and functions of objects from prehistory to modern day. To find out more about their residency, visit our blog and our Visiting Maker Residency page.

An LGBTQ+ Trail of the University of Oxford's Collections

For LGBT History Month 2017 the University has launched a new project: 'Out in Oxford'. Volunteers and Curators have worked together to create a trail of objects throughout the University’s gardens, libraries and museums. The trail celebrates the diversity of Oxford's collections, and uncovers queer stories associated with these objects. More information on the trail and the objects chosen can be found online at

Diversifying the University Voice - IT Innovation Award

The Pitt Rivers Museum, in partnership with TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities), has been awarded £60,000 from the University of Oxford IT Innovation Challenges Fund to create two mobile apps to share Oxford’s diverse voices, stories, research and collections to a wider public. Further Information

Collaborative Doctoral Partnership

The Oxford University Museums AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) commenced in 2016 and offers up to three fully-funded doctoral studentships per year. Oxford's CDP studentship programme is led by Dan Hicks (Pitt Rivers Museum). The scheme operates across the four museums of Oxford University - the Ashmolean, the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, and the Pitt Rivers Museum. The 2017 Call for Applications i​s now open.

Professor Laura Peers wins Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Public Engagement with Research 2016

The Pitt Rivers Museum is delighted to announce that Professor Laura Peers has won a Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Public Engagement with Research. These awards, inaugurated in early 2016 and announced on 1 July 2016, recognise and reward those who undertake high-quality public engagement with research and have contributed to building capacity in this area. Professor Peers won an award in the Project category with the outstanding Great Box project, a partnership project with the Haida Gwaii Museum and artists Jaalen Edenshaw and Gwaii Edenshaw. Further information about the award 

On the Move

The Pitt Rivers Museum is home to more than 300,000 ethnographic and archaeological objects from around the world. It is known for its dense displays and has more than 30,000 objects on show in the galleries. However, the majority of the collection is stored in off-site facilities. Over the next two years, the collections housed at the largest of these facilities will be moving closer to the Museum. Read more

Appointment of new Director of Pitt Rivers Museum

Dr Laura Van Broekhoven, Head of the Curatorial Department and Curator of Middle and South America at the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen (encompassing the Tropenmuseum, Volkenkunde and Afrika Museum) in the Netherlands and Assistant Professor of Archaeology at Leiden University, has been appointed as the new Director of the Pitt Rivers Museum. She will take up the directorship on 1 March 2016. Press Release.

Collaborative Doctoral Studentships

Oxford University Museums are offering up to three fully-funded doctoral studentships per year, starting in October 2016, through the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) scheme. The Collaborative Doctoral Studentships will involve research that helps us to develop new perspectives on our collections and to share knowledge more widely and effectively with a range of audiences, while also training a new generation of scholars working between the academic and heritage sectors. Further Information (pdf)

DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund Award

The Pitt Rivers Museum is delighted to have been awarded nearly £40,000 from DCMS/Wolfson Foundation's Museum and Galleries Improvement Fund.

The Award will enable the Museum to commission major new cases in which to display some of its outstanding collection of model artefacts, ranging from temples to tipis, from planes to palanquins and from canoes to igloos. The new cases, which will be in period style, will be arranged to form a fresh space in the heart of the displays, where staff can introduce all the collections to the burgeoning number of visitors. Further Information (pdf)

Oxford Cultural Leaders

Oxford University Museums, in partnership with colleagues from the Saïd Business School and supported by Arts Council England, are delighted to announce the launch of an innovative new executive leadership programme for the cultural sector. Further information

The Hélène La Rue Scholarship in Music

St Cross College invites applications for this scholarship from students who will begin studying at the University of Oxford in the academic year 2015-2016 for a postgraduate research degree in Music.
Further information

Pitt Rivers Museum wins DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund award

The Pitt Rivers Museum is delighted to have been awarded £64,845 from DCMS/Wolfson Foundation’s Museum and Galleries Improvement Fund. The award will enable the purchase of a major new display case in which to exhibit one of the Museum’s most important collections, that brought back from Captain Cook’s voyages to the South Seas in the 18th century. (Download press release)


US prizePitt Rivers Museum curator's book wins major US prize - January 2014

The Pitt Rivers Museum is delighted to announce that Dr Clare Harris's book The Museum on the Roof of the World: Art, Politics, and the Representation of Tibet has been awarded the 2013 E. Gene Smith Inner Asia Book Prize by the Association for Asian Studies. (download press release)

Explore Oxford University Museums App

Discover featured objects from the University of Oxford's four world-renowned museums and keep up to date with the latest exhibitions and events. The Ashmolean Museum, the Museum of the History of Science, the Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum each hold distinct and fascinating collections to explore. Find out more about the App and download.

Pitt Rivers Museum wins £1m Heritage Lottery Funding

We are delighted to announce we have received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for £1,049,400 towards our £1.6m project VERVE(Visitors, Engagement, Renewal, Visibility, Enrichment). Find out more about the VERVE project.

Conference Announcement – The Future of Ethnographic Museums at Pitt Rivers Museum and Keble College 19 – 21 July 2013

The conference marked the completion of the five-year ‘Ethnography Museums and World Cultures’ (EMWC) project funded by the European Union, and involving ten major European ethnography Museums. The conference was addressed by James Clifford (University of California at Santa Cruz) and other leading figures in the study of museums and anthropology. Further information and conference material.

excavating PR

‘Excavating Pitt-Rivers’ Project

The Victorian archaeologist General Pitt-Rivers is world-famous for his development of modern scientific archaeology, but the earliest archaeological collections that he made have never been studied. The Pitt Rivers Museum, where these artefacts are held, has been awarded £76,654 by Arts Council England’s Designation Development Fund to document this important early material. Press Release | 'Excavating Pitt-Rivers' Project blog

Small Blessings - Amulets at the Pitt Rivers website launched August 2012

Explore these curious objects from Adrien de Mortillet's amulet collection and discover the intriguing stories behind them. Go to the Small blessings - Amulets at the Pitt Rivers website

Composer residency

We are delighted to announce that Sound and Music has awarded Nathaniel Robin Mann a joint residency with Pitt Rivers Museum and Oxford Contemporary Music (OCM) through their ‘Embedded’ programme.

Renaissance Major Grant from Arts Council England – 2012 to 2015

The Pitt Rivers Museum as part of an Oxford University and Oxfordshire County Museums consortium has been awarded a Renaissance ‘Major Grant’ from Arts Council England (ACE). Further details