Pitt Rivers Museum


The Pitt Rivers Museum is of outstanding international significance for its collections which are wide-ranging in their geographical scope and type. Over the years the Museum has succeeded in retaining a unique period atmosphere which is much loved by visitors as it enhances the experience of exploring the Museum.

The extensive programme of family and school activities offered at the Pitt Rivers Museum meant that the visitor numbers have increased dramatically in the last forty years. In 2006/2007 alone, the Museum had 196,000 visitors of which 24,000 were part of school groups on educational visits. In order for this trend to continue a number of changes were urgently required, including internal alterations and building services alterations.

About the project

The development was a mixture of restoration and sympathetic adaptation to the Grade I listed building, to allow the Museum to cope with the greatly increased numbers of visitors it now receives without disturbing the Museum's unique period atmosphere. At the same time, improvements were made to its environment in order to safeguard the future of its collections.

The works included:

  •     the demolition of the temporary exhibition area
  •     replacing plain 1970s supporting columns with new columns precisely modelled on the originals
  •     creating a raised platform which:
    • provided a position for a shop and an information area
    • greatly enhanced public access including disabled and wheelchair access
    • restored the original Victorian view.

In addition, the area below the platform provided a valuable space for the air handling equipment which was required to improve and stabilise the Museum's environment. A new Education Area was also added on the Lower Gallery.


The project was completed on time and in budget. The Pitt Rivers Museum reopened in May 2009, and in the six months after re-opening the Museum has exceeded its highest ever annual visitor numbers.

Key stakeholders

The development was made possible by a number of funders including the Heritage Lottery Fund and Clore Duffield Foundation.

Project Team

Architect: Pringle Richards Sharratt
Services Engineer: Foreman Roberts
Structural Engineer: AKS Ward
Cost Consultant: Turner and Townsend
Contractor: Beard Construction
Project Manager: Estates Services
Project Completion date: May 2009 


Total Project Cost: £1,397,000
Construction Cost: £846,000


The project received an Oxford Preservation Trust Award in 2009.