Knowing Things: Exploring the Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum, 1884-1945

The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford is one of Britain’s best-loved museums. Its evocative displays have inspired novelists, artists and film-makers. The Pitt Rivers cares for artifacts from every culture and every age. It is a leading centre for research in anthropology and archaeology.

Knowing Things charts the history of this fascinating Museum and explores the lives and travels of the many collectors who brought the world to Oxford’s doorstep. It explores the early history of the Pitt Rivers Museum and its collections. Many thousands of people collected objects for the Museum between its foundation in 1884 and 1945, and together they and the objects they collected provide a series of insights into the early history of archaeology and anthropology. The volume also includes individual biographies and group histories of the people originally making and using the objects, as well as a snapshot of the British Empire.

The main focus for the book derives from the computerized catalogues of the Museum and attendant archival information. Together these provide a unique insight into the growth of a well-known institution and its place within broader intellectual frameworks of the Victorian period and early twentieth century. It also explores current ideas on the nature of relationships, particularly those between people and things.

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