Object Collections

Object Collections
.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 18,000 objects but there are now around 300,000. Many were donated by early anthropologists, colonial administrators and explorers, but the Museum has continued to collect through donations, bequests, special purchases and through its staff and students in the course of their fieldwork.

The Museum hosts around 100 research visits by those wishing to consult its object collections in more detail, and answers many more enquiries by correspondence.

Image ordering / licensing

Objects Catalogue

Enquiries:  objects.colls@prm.ox.ac.uk



The Collections Team manage a diverse range of activities to ensure the research and long-term care of objects in the Pitt Rivers Museum collections. Most of our work takes place behind the scenes.  To gain an insight into what we do, visit the object collections blog to read the latest post or explore the blog archive to discover even more.

Gold-weights as cryptography: the memetics of Asante proverbs

Proverbs are an integral part of Asante Twi (the dialect of Akan native to the Asante people. Each proverb represents a moral tenant, and many reference a pantheon of characters from local folklore. In effect,... Read more...

Stones and Skirts: Interning at the Pitt Rivers Museum

I remember the first time I went to a museum in primary school, on a fieldtrip. I had been interested in history even then, and seeing history manifest itself in material objects, all in one place, blew my little mind. As I grew older, my interest in history and the cultures and peoples of the past... Read more...

Exploring the Economic Botany Collection at Kew Botanic Gardens

The newly refurbished and opened Temperate House at KewOn Friday 11thMay I was invited to attend a workshop on ‘Economic Botany in the UK’ at the... Read more...