This is the first annual report ever produced by the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford. It formed part of the larger Oxford University Museum annual report and was written by Henry Balfour who was, at the time, Henry Nottidge Moseley's assistant. It was Moseley who was administratively and managerially in control of the museum at the time though it would not be long before Balfour was appointed Curator (that is, in current terms, Director) of the Museum, in 1891.

Report of the Pitt Rivers Museum 1888

During the past year [1888] the work has been chiefly confined to the Upper Gallery, and the arrangement of specimens (Prehistoric sections, savage and other weapons) upon the wall screens, and in table cases, as well as in a few upright cases. The greater portion of work in this gallery is completed, and this portion of the Museum is now sufficiently advanced to be opened to the public in the afternoons. There still, however, remains to be done a large amount of labelling, and it is intended to add, where necessary, small maps showing the geographical distribution of various weapons, etc. and sketches, in order to explain as fully as possible the different series. About 1500 of the specimens upon the screens have been fully catalogued; that is, a label upon each specimen refers by a number to a separate card, upon which is written an exact description of the specimen, with measurements, where necessary, locality, and all data, as well as references to literature. The cards are numbered and arranged in series in boxes. A number of important additions are to be made to the Prehistoric series, by the transfer, from the Geological to the Anthropological Department, of a large number of Prehistoric implements, of the Stone and Bronze Ages, being a portion of the collection presented to the Museum by J. Wickham Flower, Esq.

During Professor Moseley’s illness the entire responsibility of the arrangement, etc., has devolved upon me, and I have found it necessary to devote more of my time to the work than was originally contemplated.

The necessary reference to literature in the Radcliffe Library, Bodleian, and elsewhere, involves a very considerable expenditure of time, apart from the actual arrangement, etc. of the series. Besides this, a certain amount of time has been devoted to visitors, particularly those who are interested in special series, or the general methods of arrangement adopted.

Various series have been added during the year to those exhibited in the Court. Of these, some are series made by General Pitt-Rivers, rearranged in cases, or on screens; others are new series added by me, to further illustrate the principle of gradual development, geographical distribution, etc. especially with regard to the Evolution of Ornamental Art. A new series has also been added to illustrate artificial deformation of the human body, according to the fashions of different races.

The staff consists of a Sub-Curator, with a salary of £200 per annum; and two Assistants, with wages £1 and 15s per week respectively.

The expenses have been chiefly in salary and wages, and in the various fittings and materials required for the arrangement of the series.

The lower gallery still remains to be arranged, and many of the series in the basement require partial rearrangement. The frequent arrival of new and important additions, forming links in the series, necessitates constant slight rearrangements, in order to increase the educational value of the series; so that few series can be said to be completed, as their interest and value is constantly increasing.

Prepared for web by AP based on transcriptions made in the early 1990s.

virtual collections logo

Supported by the John Fell OUP Research Fund


(c) 2012 Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford