Bodleian Library University Archives 2

Notes on a set of correspondence relating to the movements of the founding collection at South Kensington Museum prior to transfer to the Oxford University Museum, UC/FF/60/2/2 University Archives:

Letter from Henry Nottidge Moseley to William Blagden Gamlen (University Secretary) on 11 February 1885:

‘On going to the Pitt Rivers Collection yesterday I found that it had been shifted out of its place by the S. Kensington authorities and packed closely into one room. The galleries formerly occupied by it were ordered to be cleared for the patent collection. I think the cases have been moved carefully and that the objects are not injured but it is impossible to get at any but those adjoining the passage.

I believe that General Pitt Rivers will receive the first intimation of what has been done from a letter I have written to him tonight. I imagine the Curators of the Chest to whom I beg you will communicate the content of this letter will have to ascertain in how short a time the building for the collection will be ready for its reception and then ask the S. Kensington authorities whether they will permit the collection to remain as now stored till that time. It would also be well to have the collection examined to find out whether it will deteriorate as now placed I could not speak with any confidence on the matter after the very short view I had of it. If the Kensington authorities refuse to house the collection till the building is ready the things will have to be moved to some temporary resting place here. In that case the finer cases which will be required for the new building had better be ordered at once. As all the best things in the collection are now in cases which belong to S. Kensington and would not be stored here safely and so as to preserve their arrangement except in similar cases.’

21 February 1885: Secretary, Science and Art Dept, South Kensington, to Gamlen

‘…although the Department is anxious to disturb the Pitt Rivers Collection as little as possible, it is quite out of its power to undertake that it shall remain in its present situation until the proposed new building at Oxford is ready for its reception. The Collection is at present placed in a Gallery which does not belong to the Department, and which it has received notice to vacate as soon as possible, as the building is required by the Treasury and the Office of Works for other purposes.’

Hope Pitt Rivers Collection will be removed as early as possible and glad to hear of any arrangements in next 3 months

Transcribed in January 2006 by Frances Larson as part of the Relational Museum project

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