Resources for research visitors

General Information

decorative images

The Pitt Rivers Museum is committed to making all its collections accessible, and to this end supports more than 300 research visits every year to examine material in the collections. However, limitations of resources, and the need to protect fragile material, mean that the Museum cannot meet all requests. Priority is given to serious researchers and to those who can demonstrate a special interest in the material in question. As a rule, access to the reserve collections is not granted to anyone under 18. The Museum does, however, offer special pre-booked morning viewings for students and others wishing to photograph material on display.

While the Museum makes every effort to accommodate the needs of researchers on large projects, there are practical constraints of space, time, and staff to assist. Researchers should contact the relevant department to discuss their needs in advance of the start of their project. Those applying for external grant funding to work with the Museum's collections are advised to check with the Museum, before they make their application, about the availability of specific collections at specific times and about the availability of research support, such as photographic services. They are also advised to include suitable financial provision for photographic work in their grant proposals. The Museum's scale of charges is available at http://www.prm.ox.ac.uk/researchservices.html.

Car parking in Oxford is expensive and limited so you are advised to travel to Oxford by bus or train, or to use the Park and Ride bus services running from five car parks close to the ring road. The Museum is no more than a ten-minute walk from the bus station and about a 20-minute walk from the railway station. A taxi from either costs about £5. There are regular buses from the railway station to the city centre, which is a five-minute walk from the Museum. For information about the city, travel, etc., visit the City's website at http://www.visitoxfordandoxfordshire.com/

Object Collections

If you wish to request to see material in the reserve collections, please provide as much notice as possible, preferably as much as three to four weeks. This will enable us to reserve work space and staff time for your visit. Please write/fax/e-mail the Collections Section with as much detail as possible about your research and about what you wish to see from the collections. It is not possible for us to deal with this sort of request over the phone. As the study room gets heavily booked, please also give two or three possible dates for your proposed visit.

The reserve collections are stored at several locations, and it can thus take up to a week for material to be retrieved. You may, therefore, need to make two or even three separate visits. The first visit would be to study the catalogues to select which objects you wish to see; alternatively you can make a selection through the Museum’s on-line databases at http://www.prm.ox.ac.uk/databases.html. Subsequent visits would be to see the specimens themselves. You will need to leave at least a week between selecting objects and any subsequent visit.

You will be welcome to take study photographs of objects, but will be required to sign a form assigning copyright to the Museum. The Museum can supply publication-quality photographs (please ask for details).

We will endeavour to provide you with access to the objects you request. Occasionally, however, we cannot get everything out; for example, if an object is too fragile to be handled or it cannot be located. The location index is not yet complete, and with some 300,000 objects in the collection it can sometimes prove difficult to trace a particular object at a particular time.

The number of objects that can be got out for any single visit depends on a number of factors, including the level of your research, the difficulty of retrieving the objects and their fragility. As a rough 'rule of thumb', we normally get out no more than ten objects for a visit.

The entrance to the Pitt Rivers Museum is through the University Museum on Parks Road. This is a large sandstone neo-Gothic building set back from the road. Once you have entered the University Museum walk straight ahead. You will find the entrance to the Pitt Rivers Museum at the back of the ground floor. If you arrive outside weekday Museum opening hours (12.00 - 16.30 on Mondays, 10.00 – 16.30 the rest of the week) ring the bell.

Parking spaces can be provided for researchers with restricted mobility, if advance notice is given. Please note that level access to the Museum is via the south entrance on Robinson Close, off South Parks Road. Access to the research room on the first floor is either via lift or stairs. To ensure suitable arrangements are made to view material please notify staff in advance if you have restricted mobility or other needs.

Enquiries concerning the Object Collections should be addressed to Julia Nicholson and Jeremy Coote (Joint Heads of Collections) at objects.colls@prm.ox.ac.uk

Photograph and Manuscript Collections

The department strongly encourages researchers to consult the Museum’s online database before making a research enquiry or appointment to view material.

Research enquiries and requests to consult collections should be addressed to the Head of Photograph Collections (Dr Christopher Morton) via ms-photo.colls@prm.ox.ac.uk

Access to the photograph collections is governed by the same considerations laid out regarding object collections.

Research appointments are available Monday–Friday only.

It is usually possible to take reference photographs of material in the photograph collections, although you will be required to sign a form assigning copyright to the Museum. Advice on whether this is possible should be sought during the research visit. Enquiries about obtaining high-quality scans or prints from the collections should be addressed to: photographic.services@prm.ox.ac.uk

Reproductions and licenses

For information about obtaining reproductions of photographs from the Museum’s collection, and licenses to reproduce, please visit http://www.prm.ox.ac.uk/researchservices.html

General Enquiries

Pitt Rivers Museum, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PP
Phone 44 (0) 1865 270927 Fax: 44 (0) 1865 270943
Email: prm@prm.ox.ac.uk