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Miscellaneous scuration

John Pollock, in an email, thought that readers of Everything Is Miscellaneous might be interested in The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. John writes:

“[Although] In most ethnographic and archaeological museums the displays are arranged according to geographical or cultural areas. Here they are arranged according to type: musical instruments, weapons, masks, textiles, jewellery, and tools are all displayed in groups to show how the same problems have been solved at different times by different peoples. The cases appear to be very crowded, as a very large percentage of the collection is on view. In some instances the ‘displays’ are primarily visible storage, due to the museum being first and foremost a teaching and research institution”

John also found this:

“What drove this man into keeping such flawless and precise records on every object he excavated? One reason is that Pitt-Rivers realized a very significant point. He understood that all archaeological excavation is permanent destruction and that all objects found on a site have a vital context in time and space that is just as important as actually finding of the object (Fagan 1994:8)” [source]

Sounds fascinating…

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2 Responses to “Miscellaneous scuration”

  1. on 21 Sep 2008 at 11:52 amJohn Pollock

    I must confess that I did not write the first quotation attributed to me: it’s from the website. It’s my fault, as I confirmed to David Weinberger in a slapdash fashion. Apologies.

    Still, Pitt Rivers really is a fascinating man, and anyone interested and given the opportunity should seek out his museum in Oxford, England, and to enjoy the fecundity of his omnivorous mind.

    I was inspired to point it out because the shop in the Coda to Everything is Miscellaneous sounded rather similar!

  2. on 21 Sep 2008 at 1:25 pmAdriana Lukas

    The Pitt Rivers museum is definitely a favourite spot of mine – as a student I spent many happy hours there, procratinating, instead of writing my essays. :) The sense of discovery is amazing and the exhibits are indeed arranged according to Mr Rivers itchy collector’s fingers.

    The chronological ordering of most museums is very frustrating – I always feel like I am missing so much – in Pitt Rivers, the context goes a long way to avoid that.