Pitt Rivers Museum Review

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Useful Info:

  • Collections: Anthropological collections from around the world.
  • City: Oxford, UK.
  • Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-4:30pm, Monday 12pm-4:30pm.
  • Price: Free
  • Website

This review is going to be quite a short one, since the Pitt Rivers is a small museum. My visit there took about half an hour. I had one day to do all of Oxford, including the Ashmolean (which I will review soon), so I was running around everywhere but I don’t think it would take more than an hour to go through the Pitt Rivers anyway.DSC_0033 The entrance to the Pitt Rivers is through the Natural History Museum (pictured above), a very impressive building in terms of architecture. Then, as you can see in the picture below, the Pitt Rivers consists of one large room with two floors of mezzanine. The mezzanines are easy to navigate because they go around the main hall, but there is no real logic in terms of navigation.

The collections are displayed in old fashioned glass cases, and they are classified by theme (hunting, transportation, food & drink, costumes…). There is so much to see, but it can get a little overwhelming. The display cases are very crammed, and very close to each other. As an archaeologist, it makes me sad to see such huddled displays. There are some beautiful objects but they are really not enhanced in the way that they are exhibited.

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Another thing that bothered me about the Pitt Rivers is how dark it was. they actually have panels explaining that light deteriorate objects, which I understand, especially since they have a lot of textiles and organics; but I think that modernizing the displays would solve that issue.

There’s kind of a debate about that, and a lot of people like how the museum has all these themed cases; but the dominant feeling I had when I was there was being overwhelmed and a little sad. The Pitt Rivers felt like a museum of a museum to me. It reflects a way of exhibiting that hasn’t changed much in a century. However, I do think it is worth visiting, if only to get that experience.

Rating

  • Accessibility (location, price, disabled access, transport links and parking): 8/10
  • Architecture: 8/10
  • Collections: 7/10
  • Display: 2/10
  • Resources (explanation panels, guides, plans): 5/10
  • Extras (shop, events, exhibitions): 5/10
  • Overall: 6/10
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