Access to the Pitt Rivers museum is through the Oxford Natural History Museum (read that review here). It’s free to visit and a real Oxford highlight. There are actually loads of great free places to visit in Oxford. You can have a look at some of the others here.
Pitt Rivers is one of the strangest museums I have ever been to but it’s fantastic! This is hubby’s favourite places to visit apparently. It’s a veritable Aladdin’s cave of the weird and wonderful from around the world. Unlike most museums, the exhibits are grouped together by subject matter rather than era or location which means you can compare how different cultures view and depict each thing. They have boats, model ships, native clothing, weaponry, coins, toys, jewellery and even baby carriers!
The lower gallery is pretty packed with cabinets all over the place. They’re really quite close together and each cabinet is stuffed full of treasures. I have no idea how many items are on displays (apparently the collection totals over 500,000 items), but they’ve really squished a lot of stuff into a relatively small area.
The upper galleries are less crowded, both the contents of the cabinets themselves and physically spaced. Up here you’ll find a lot of the larger items as well. There’s even a boat hanging from one level! On one visit our main reason for visiting was to have a look at the extensive weaponry collection. It was fascinating actually – including some of the “armour” that people used to wear to protect themselves.
One thing we found is that there isn’t really a lot of signage so you don’t always know what you’re looking at which can be a bit frustrating.
How child friendly is the Pitt Rivers Museum?
As you walk into the museum there is a massive totem pole and as you go to the upper floors you can get a better look at the different animals depicted. Middle Child was absolutely terrified of the totem pole for a while and refused to go in there whenever we visited. He’s got over that now though. Instead Smallest Child has decided that she doesn’t like it. I was joking with one of the members of staff and apparently that’s actually quite common. He thought maybe it’s because you go from light and airy in the natural history museum to dark and almost oppressive in the Pitt Rivers Museum.
There are various children’s trails available. Pushchairs are not allowed (but there is somewhere to store them) so you’ll have to carry babies and non-walkers.
It’s also worth warning you that they have some shrunken heads that might scare smaller kids and also some fertility idols that might require some explanation (or avoiding giving any explanations). Pitt Rivers Museum review update. Apparently the shrunken heads are going to be removed as part of their decolonisation process. It’s been quite a controversial move apparently.
Entry – Free but suggested donation of £5.
For current opening times visit their website.
None within the Pitt Rivers but there is a small cafe within the Natural History Museum though.
The toilets are VERY plush! Baby change is available.
Parking / How to get there
Address – S Parks Rd, Oxford OX1 3PP
Parking – Can be problematic. There is on street parking on the road opposite the museum but it’s crazy expensive (£7.40 for 2 hours). You can park in one of the city centre car parks and walk it get the park and ride.
Our Pitt Rivers Museum Review
It’s an incredibly eclectic collection from all around the world and I can’t think of any other museum that’s quite like it. I almost imagine this is what it must be like inside my brain – random collections of stuff all grouped together! Pretty much whatever your kids’ homework is, there’s something here to link in with it. You won’t be here for a long time as it isn’t particularly big, but I did find it fascinating. Definitely one for adults and older kids than toddlers really.
Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with out three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Facebook