Small Blessings: Animating the Pitt Rivers’ Amulet Collection

Small Blessings: Animating the Pitt Rivers’ Amulet Collection

Project dates: February – September 2012

The Pitt Rivers Museum is delighted to announce an award of £70,000 from the Designation Development Fund (DDF), administered by Arts Council England (ACE).

Building on the success and impact of more than a decade of DDF grants to improve the care and interpretation of collections, this project will focus on a major collection of religious and folkloric amulets collected by the French ethnologist Adrien de Mortillet more than a century ago and acquired by Sir Henry Wellcome before its transfer to Oxford.

Often completely unique and personal, utilizing auspicious materials and symbolism, amulets were (and continue to be) made for various purposes, e.g., to avert evil or disease, or to bring good luck in harvests, journeys, or war. Yet a theme that unites them, and one which the project will seek to explore, is that the people who created and used them believed they had the power to alter or affect the world around them. In this sense amulets can help us understand the human need for well-being and the universal concepts of hope and belief.

The grant will enable a project team to take on the challenge of accessioning and documenting more than 2500 of these often-tiny objects and render them accessible via our online database. It will also provide an opportunity for the Museum to pilot and evaluate new digital, film and mobile resources to broaden public access, share best practice among professional and educational sector partners, and reveal some of the contexts and stories behind these intriguing artefacts. 

amulets website



Small Blessings - Amulets at the Pitt Rivers website

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