University & Pitt Rivers Museums
University & Pitt Rivers Museums information
Lonely Planet review
Housed in a glorious Victorian Gothic building with slender, cast-iron columns, ornate capitals and a soaring glass roof, the University Museum is worth a visit for its architecture alone. However, the real draw is the mammoth natural-history collection of more than five million exhibits, ranging from exotic insects and fossils to a towering T. Rex skeleton and the remains of the first ever dinosaur ever to be mentioned in a written text (1677).
Hidden away through a door at the back of the main exhibition hall, the wonderful Pitt Rivers Museum is an anthropologist’s wet dream – a treasure trove of objects from around the world to satisfy any armchair adventurer and a place where you can spend days on end. The dim light inside the hall lends the glass cases stuffed with Victorian explorers’ prized booty an air of mystery, and one of the reasons this museum is so brilliant is because there are no computers here or shiny modern gimmicks; you make your own discoveries. Among this circus of feathered cloaks, necklaces of teeth, blowpipes, magic charms, Noh masks, totem poles, fur parkas, musical instruments and shrunken heads, you may spot ceremonial headgear from Uganda worn during circumcision ceremonies, a Naga skull with buffalo horns surmounted by a German Pickelhaube, blowpipes from South America and Borneo, a porcupine fish helmet from Kiribati, a whalebone ivory war paddle from the South Pacific, an aboriginal cradle made from a single piece of bark, ancient dental implements, ceremonial masks and costume and more, so much more.
Both museums run workshops for children almost every weekend.