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Pitt Rivers receives £70,500 grant (UPDATED)

The Pitt Rivers Museum has been awarded £70,500 in the latest round of DCMS/Wolfson funding awards, aimed at helping museums increase access to their collections.

This award will fund Engaging the Senses: Activating the Pitt Rivers Museum’s Photograph and Sound Collections through digital audio-visual technology. This project will improve visitors’ engagement and introduce elements of digital exploration and learning in the galleries for a variety of audiences. A digital interactive table top, listening station and interactive screen will display unique photographs and sound collections, improving the visitor experience for visitors with disabilities, local communities and the wider public.

In 2018 the Pitt Rivers Museum welcomed a record 502,000 visitors. These new audio-visual elements will allow the growing number of visitors to not only see the objects that are on display but also search the Museum’s digital collections, hear unique historical field recordings, and view film footage and photographs from around the world.

Welcoming news of the award, Dr. Laura Van Broekhoven, Director of the Pitt Rivers Museum,said: ‘We are very grateful to DCMS/Wolfson for this opportunity to allow our visitors to access the full breadth and depth of the collections, now also giving access to unique sound recordings, photography and film. The project will allow us to show many more fascinating historical and cultural facets of the collection.

The Pitt Rivers Museum has just recently launched a new website with a wealth of information to enhance the visitor experience but also wants to bring new material into the Victorian age space of the Museum itself. The challenge of Engaging the Senses will be to sensitively show and share the unique material in the photo, film and sound collections without distracting from the objects on display.

Curator of Photograph Collections, Dr Chris Morton said: ‘This very welcome funding will bring collections such as the fabulous travel photographs of Sir Wilfred Thesiger, author of ‘Arabian Sands’ and ‘The Marsh Arabs, into the galleries for all our visitors to explore and enjoy, as well as the incredible collection of sound recordings of polyphonic singing made by Louis Sarno among the Bayaka of Central Africa. There is currently very little opportunity to show these collections to our visitors among the Museum’s dense displays, but the sensitive use of digital interactive technology in the historic museum space will allow us to enhance the visitor experience considerably.’

The DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund supports national and regional museums across England to improve the quality of displays, enhance exhibition spaces and public access, and increase awareness of their collections.

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