Thursday, 6 August 2015

Pop-up Pitt Rivers

The Pitt Rivers outreach programme is part of the Need / Make / Use project. Between 2013 and 2017 we are taking the Pitt-Rivers ‘experience’ to events, fetes and festivals in and around Oxfordshire. Our aim is to reach out to communities that may not have had the opportunity to visit the Museum, so they can engage with the collections in new ways through handling museum objects, craft activities and workshops.

So far in 2015 we’ve been lucky enough to attend Abingdon Fun in the Park in the Abbey Grounds and Florence Park Festival in June and Salisbury’s Festival of Archaeology in July.

Pitt Rivers pop-up tent at Abingdon's Fun in the Park in June © Pitt Rivers Museum

Inside our beautifully decorated tent we have a selection of intriguing museum handling objects on display from around the world to spark people’s curiosity and encourage conversation. The great thing about museum handling objects is that people can pick them up, feel the materials and even give them a sniff!

One of our favourite ‘smelling’ objects is this Kenyan milk gourd, made from a calabash (a type of vegetable), which has been cleaned and dried in the sun until it becomes hard and watertight. Its distinctive smell comes from a blend of milk, cows blood and ash, providing the local Maasai herdsmen with their staple food and all their protein and caloric needs in a convenient portable ‘lunchbox’. These gourds were treasured, mended when broken and used for many years.

Kenyan Maasai gourd from the education handling collection © Pitt Rivers Museum

As always our pop-up tent also features a selection of free family friendly craft activities relating to the museum’s collections and some of the handling objects on display. This summer we’ve had fun making porcupine fish helmets, fish scale breastplates, mini Zulu shields, feather headdresses, drum shakers and more!

 Porcupine fish helmet activity & replica porcupine
fish helmet from the education handling collection. © Pitt Rivers Museum

At Salisbury Festival of archaeology, emulating a fish-scale
breastplate from Sarawak © Pitt Rivers Museum
Children wearing their porcupine fish helmets, 
and pretending to be one! © Pitt Rivers Museum

This August, look out for our tent in Witney’s Marriotts Walk shopping centre (Wed 19th) and the next Oxfordshire Play Day event in Wallingford (Wednesday 12th)!