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Inside the Pitt Rivers Museum

Updated: Jul 25

Video from University of Oxford

Inside the Pitt Rivers Museum

"The Pitt Rivers Museum is not just a treasure trove of archaeological and ethnographic objects. Join the staff behind the scenes to see how this unique collection is kept alive as a resource for people of all ages and interests!" from video introduction.

"The Museum 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 of Oxford.

Augustus Henry Lane Fox was born in 1827 in Yorkshire. In 1841, he entered the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst and was commissioned into the Grenadier Guards in 1845. He fought for a short time in the Crimean War, and served in Malta, England, Canada and Ireland. He retired in 1882, at the age of 55, with the honorary rank of Lieutenant-General. In 1880, he unexpectedly inherited the estate and Pitt-Rivers name from his great uncle. The country estate was a substantial one, and Pitt-Rivers also received a large annual income; for the remainder of his life he was a wealthy landowner. In 1882 Pitt-Rivers was appointed the first Inspector of Ancient Monuments. He died in 1900, at the age of 73.

Pitt-Rivers's interest in collecting archaeological and ethnographic objects came out of his early professional interests in the development of firearms. Later he started to collect many other varieties of offensive and defensive weaponry, and then objects other than weapons. It is generally believed that Pitt-Rivers himself did very little field collecting but, in fact, he did obtain objects while on active service in Malta and during the Crimean War. Later in life he seems to have collected objects during working trips and holidays abroad. The vast majority of objects, however, came from dealers, auction houses, and fellow members of the Anthropological Institute.

The General gave his collection to the University of Oxford on condition that they built a Museum to house it, appoint a lecturer to teach about it and maintain the general mode of display. The Museum first opened to visitors in 1887 and was fully open by 1892..." from the website: Pitt Rivers Museum


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