33/52 – Oxford (4) The Pitt Rivers Museum

The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford is one of my all time favourite museums on the planet. Being a fan of both natural history and archaeology/anthropology, this could possibly be the perfect museum for me.

The building is split into two distinct areas, you enter the building to find a light-filled, cathedral-like wrought iron and glass hall which houses the natural history collection, the lofty Gothic arches and fine columns are quite a distraction from the skeletal whales and dinosaurs and the last Dodo.

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Gothic natural history hall with cetacean skeletons, Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford. Copyright Fiona Michie.
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Whale skeletons, Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford. Copyright Fiona Michie.
Humpback whale skull, Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford. Copyright Fiona Michie.
Humpback whale skull, Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford. Copyright Fiona Michie.

The second part of the museum is the polar opposite of this light spacious gallery. A dark hall crowded with display cases houses the museum’s amazing anthropological/ethnographic collection. All manner of human life is here, from Noh theatre masks to grass skirts, from canoes to shrunken heads and a totem pole. Each case is crammed with curios. It is magnificent ordered chaos, and just as a museum should be. I hope it never changes.

The anthropological collection. Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford. Copyright Fiona Michie.
The anthropological collection. Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford. Copyright Fiona Michie.

 

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