Research Introduction

This section provides introductions to the different types of material held by the Museum and accounts of some current research projects, as well as links to some 'virtual collections', the online databases, and information for visiting researchers and students.

Trina Weasel Moccasin and Josh, Blackfoot tribal members,
examining shirts from PRM collections in a handling session at
Glenbow Museum, Calgary, April 2010. The Blackfoot Shirts
Project is funded by the AHRC and involved a loan of 5
historic Blackfoot shirts from PRM to the Glenbow and Galt
Museums in Alberta, Canada, so that Blackfoot people
could revive cultural knowledge connected to them.
Photograph courtesy Glenbow Museum.
As a department of the University of Oxford, the Museum is a world-renowned centre for teaching and research. From its beginnings in the 1880s, the Museum has always employed research-active staff, who have published on the collections and their implications for anthropological and archaeological debates. This continues today, with staff members actively contributing to research and making their work available in conventional publications and online.

In recent years, there has been a renewed focus on the part of the Museum's staff and students on collections-focused research that takes the Museum and its holdings of objects, photographs, manuscripts, sound recordings, and film as starting points. Current research ranges from that carried out as part of major projects to the detailed investigations that are carried out as part of accessioning procedures and cataloguing, and as part of the preparatory work for new displays and exhibitions.

Much of this work is historically focused, including much recent work on the history of the Museum and its collections. However, given the importance of the Museum's collections for source communities—the descendants of the original makers and users—such historical research often has enormous contemporary significance. Indeed, much recent Museum-based research has depended on close collaboration with members of source communities and researchers around the world.

Members of the Museum's staff themselves lead externally funded research projects, as well as collaborating as research partners on projects based at other universities around the world. Current and recent projects have been funded by a number of research councils and other generous donors, such as the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the John Fell / OUP Research Fund, and The Leverhulme Trust.

The results of all this research activity are made available in academic and scholarly books and articles, in the various websites hosted by the Museum, as well as in introductory guides, films, and podcasts. New information on specific items in the Museum's collections is also made available to the research community and the general public through amendments and enhancements to the Museum's databases, which are themselves used to inform new displays, new exhibitions, and other resources that are made available in the Museum and online.