Pitt Rivers Museum - Oxford

United Kingdom

Founded in 1884, the Pitt Rivers Museum is housed within an atmospheric building holding more than 500,000 objects, photographs and manuscripts from all over the world, and from all periods of human existence. Within are exceptional objects of ritual significance, and objects made for tourists or trade.

Those interested in "Tiki" or Polynesian Pop have often been guided here to see the Maori display and the "Treatment of Dead Enemies" display (with its shrunken heads). Photos of both displays are shown below along with some close-ups.

Since the museum is not necessarily arranged by geographical area, but by type of item, there are often several cultures represented in some areas. There is much more than just these two displays to interest visitors.

It appears that since 2020, this museum (like many) has grappled with a call to repudiate or at least better contextualize their colonial past. For the Pitt Rivers, this means a modernization of their display tags and a retiring of some display pieces to storage. The shrunken head exhibit has been removed and that case has been wrapped with an explanation of the institution's efforts to not dehumanize colonized peoples or display human remains if possible. You can see some before and after photos below.

As with most museums, their collections are often updated and never meant to be a static or unchanging time capsule. However, the changes above have fueled quite a bit of debate.


No one has visited this tiki bar.

Entry Meta

Date Created
24 Feb 2023
Date Updated
24 Feb 2023
Missing Info
Edit Entry