I think this week Kanye and I will tell you about our favorite museums of all time. Okay…I know I haven’t seen every museum in the world, but I’ve been to quite a few in my day, especially when I studied them for a year and a half. So I think I know what I’m talking about. Maybe.
One that will always stick out in my mind is the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, England. Founded in 1884 by General Augustus Pitt Rivers, the collection has now grown to over 500,000 items and is arranged thematically (the function of an object) rather than their age or place of origin. This display approach is no longer accepted by most museums, but the Pitt Rivers has retained this original organization of objects in the original cases with some original hand-written labels still attached. Musical instruments, weapons, masks, textiles, jewelery and tools are all displayed in groups to show how the same problems were solved at different times by different peoples. The cases appear to be very crowded as a very large percentage of the collection is on view. A case full of toys shows a monkey skull for a Borneo child next to a Siamese child’s coconut-husk spirit ship. An interesting place to visit, especially if you are into Victorian displays.