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Pitt Rivers Museum

Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, houses a multitude of archaeological and anthropological objects. Displayed thematically, as opposed to age or origin, the museum shows both the advancement of design and the evolution of man. A veritable candy store for folk like me who love all things ethnographic.


Darkly lit, artefacts sit cheek by jowl in looming glass cabinets and are housed in lofty Victorian rooms within the grounds of Oxford University. A mass of masks become precious artworks and sculptures in their own right, furnishing the museum. They are of all ages and tribes and from the far corners of the world. Magic, ritual, religion and belief systems are displayed through an array of ceremonial and creepy death masks and shrunken heads. Sacred objects used for the treatment of the dead suggest voodoo and ancient customs.

Up high in the eves alongside a dominating and gargantuan totem pole, hangs a plethora of paddles and canoes on racks. Dusty antiquities with charming handwritten labels, make a refreshing change from the stark plaques you find in big white galleries. It is a sizeable place of wonder, a curiosity shop of the weird and wonderful, where you can browse a glut of objects that solve everyday common problems. There is even a witch in a bottle which is labelled 'never open'. Defy this at your peril!

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