Pitt Rivers Museum

'Shout queer!' The museums bringing LGBT artefacts out of the closet

Title: 'Shout queer!' The museums bringing LGBT artefacts out of the closet
Author: David Shariatmadari
Media Outlet: The Guardian
Publish Date: July 8, 2019

A darkly jumbled 19th-century anthropological museum, the Pitt Rivers is an unlikely setting for cutting-edge identity politics. But its openness to queer perspectives is part of a wider ethos of interrogation, borne out by the fact that even members of staff describe the collection, gathered magpie-like from cultures around the world, as “incredibly problematic”. Curators are preoccupied by questions such as: How did this stuff get here? Who is it for? And what stories are being told about it? “I think this is a moment of huge change in museums and particularly in collections like [ours],” says head of education Andy McLellan. “When people came into the museum 20 years ago, they just went, ‘Isn’t the Pitt Rivers museum a quaint place! And it’s got these lovely handwritten labels and, oh, they’re a little bit iffy but it’s all about the atmosphere.’ And people are coming into the museum today and they’re saying, ‘You need to change this. You need to face up to these issues. We want to find out about them – we don’t want you hiding them.’”

Pitt Rivers: The museum that's returning the dead

Title: Pitt Rivers: The museum that's returning the dead
Author: Dave Gilyeat
Media Outlet: BBC News
Publish Date: January 29, 2019

“In Oxford, the Pitt Rivers Museum - founded with the collection of a Victorian general, Augustus Pitt Rivers - holds about 2,000 such specimens.

(…)

"We can't undo history but we can be a part of the process of healing," says Laura van Broekhoven, director of the museum.

She says the process is about having an "open conversation" with those affected.”

(…) Ashley Jackson, professor of Imperial and military history at King's College, believes if the situation was reversed, there would be strong feelings in the UK.

"If a museum in Beijing or Harare had the remains or funeral regalia of an important king or archbishop there'd be an enormous movement to try and get them back here," he says.”

UK museums task staff with identifying 'stolen' colonial collections

Title: UK museums task staff with identifying 'stolen' colonial collections
Author: Hannah Furness
Media Outlet: The Telegraph
Publish Date: January 1, 2019

“Britain’s leading museums are employing full-time staff to revisit their colonial-era collections, in a bid to acknowledge the controversies of where they came from.

(…) “The V&A has “strengthened its commitment to provenance research”, a spokesman said, recently appointing a dedicated “Provenance and Spoliation Research Curator”, to look into the origins of the Gilbert Collection, made up of gold and silver, enamel miniatures, gold boxes and mosaics amassed through the 20th century, and coordinate the museum’s overall re-examination of where objects came from.”

(…) Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford is advertising for a research assistant to manage a labelling project, to “identify and find ways to redress a range of ethical issues in the current displays”.

Paid between £32,236 and £39,609, the successful candidate will “tackle a complex problem around historical labelling and language-use in the much-loved and criticised Pitt Rivers Museum”, with the aim to “dissect and dismantle some of the complex contested words, stereotypes and concepts that are present not only in museums but in society at large”.”

Hey, that's our stuff: Maasai tribespeople tackle Oxford's Pitt Rivers Museum

Title: Hey, that's our stuff: Maasai tribespeople tackle Oxford's Pitt Rivers Museum
Author: Yohann Koshy,
Media Outlet: The Guardian
Publish Date: December 4, 2018

“(…) Will the Maasai be able to facilitate the return of sacred objects? Van Broekhoven tells me over email that “in principle”, and provided they find funding, the museum is ready to “learn together how we might envision new ways of redress”. The words are carefully chosen. Nangiria, ever the diplomat, suggests an alternative solution in one of our conversations: inviting elders to perform a spiritual ceremony that will “disconnect” the objects from their cultural function, allowing the Maasai to actively donate them to the museum. The museum will wait to hear from the elders to “jointly decide” on the next steps in the partnership.”