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Vernon, H.M. & K. Dorothea. 1909. A History of the Oxford Museum Oxford: Clarendon Press


Striking as are the exhibits in the central court of the [Oxford University] Museum [of Natural History], they are equalled or even surpassed by those of the adjoining Pitt-Rivers Museum, an annexe built on the eastern side of the court in 1883 to house the collection presented to the University in 1883 to house the collection presented to the University by Major-General Pitt-Rivers in 1882. This collection, in which archaeological and ethnological material are brought together, is designed in the main to throw light upon the history of the various human arts, industries and appliances, and the successive stages of their development. Objects of like nature and function are grouped together in synoptic and progressive series, commencing with the more primitive and generalized types and leading gradually up to the higher and more specialized forms, the specimens being arranged, as it were, in genera and species. Not only are the origin and development of arts-appliances illustrated, but also their geographical distribution and local variations, and light is thrown upon the question of the monogenesis or polygenesis of certain widely distributed arts and implements; also upon their probable lines of dispersal from one or more centres and, incidentally, upon the migrations of races themselves. The collection includes an extensive Pre-historic series, groups illustrating the development and distribution of various classes of weapons, implements of domestic use, musical instruments, the art of writing, navigation, pottery and textile industries, fire-making, personal ornaments and numerous other products of human activity both on the utilitarian and the aesthetic side. [Footnote: For this description we are indebted to Mr. H. Balfour] This collection, the most complete of its kind in the world, was placed nominally under the charge of the Professor of Comparative Anatomy (Professor Moseley), but his curator, Mr. H. Balfour, had the care of its arrangement, and, after Professor Moseley's death, it was entrusted to his sole charge. Since the time of the original gift, the collection has been increased every year by numerous and valuable additions, the most striking of which is the gigantic totem post from Queen Charlotte Island, N. Pacific, presented in 1901 by Professor Tylor.'

Transcribed by AP June 2013.

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