Pitt Rivers and Oxford University Museum of Natural History (3, 4)

From chronological art and history, to subject based curation of artefacts across time and culture; as well as presentation of the nature and its history.


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IMG_1712.jpgOur third (and technically fourth) was the Pitt Rivers Museum with entrance through the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.
Again, the collections are owned by the Oxford University and displayed for education purposes.
I found a vitrine explaining principles of Darwin’s Evolution Theory through the extensively bred pigeons of different shapes and colours quite fun and interesting. But the overall feel of the impressive building and giant skeletons towering above us, surrounded by aged wood and glass vitrines, was an experience in itself.

A temporary exhibition displaying big digital prints of micro photography of insect life brought great new and different perspective on the subject of the collection, alongside preserved skeletons and taxidermy.


Entering the Pitt Rivers through the Natural History Museum was a different experience.
Still grand and impressive, but with deeper sense of wonder, as the space is filled with antique displays of not natural world, but the phenomena of nature, humans and all their creations.
The taxonomy and presentation couldn’t be different, not just by grouping the artefacts by subjects (such as toys, musical instruments, religious figures, etc), but by less subject writing and more focus on particular artefact and it’s origin, telling it’s story which creates diverse narrative of individual cabinet, and combined, the narrative of  the whole human world across time and space.
This really evoke bigger sense of exploration and wonder, with more artefacts hiding in drawers underneath.
It felt like real wunderkammer.


It even housed artefacts that I’m very familiar with from my culture.
I would blow and decorate my own eggs, when I was little, and decorated the house with them on Easter.

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Seeing something that I could technically have made, as a cultural ritual, behind a museum’s glass, in an anthropological collection, just made me feel as part of the humanity. Just another way of adapting natural resources around us, in a decorational/ritual way or as a functional object.
It made me wonder what is the most recent object in the collection, as we are still doing the same thing – adapting and changing the material around us, for many peculiar purposes.
It would be interesting how ideas and use changed over the time, how new materials such as plastic changed the visual and practical aspects of objects.
What ideas deceased and what are the new ones, or what improved or what people in past did better?


 

 

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Marek Liska

https://ceramicliska.wordpress.com/

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