The Pitt Rivers Museum has collected photographs ever since its foundation. We hold important collections of 19th- and early 20th-century photography, and important fieldwork archives, such as the photographs of the traveller Wilfred Thesiger, whose collection alone numbers some 38,000 images. The Museum continues to collect photography, with a particular emphasis on well-documented field collections and contemporary practice.
The Museum’s manuscript collections comprise the papers of notable early anthropologists and curators associated with the Museum, historical documents and correspondence relating to its collections, and special collections of field notes.
The Pitt Rivers Museum's sound collections contain unique historical field recordings, most of which are directly related to collections of objects and photographs held by the Museum.
Online collection of Thesiger's photographs of Arabia
Explore over 5000 images from Arabia by the renowned traveller and photographer Sir Wilfred Thesiger between 1945 and 1950, including his two famous crossings of the Empty Quarter (Rub' Al Khali), as memorably described in his classic travelogue Arabian Sands (1959).
Sir Wilfred (1910–2003) was probably the greatest traveller of the 20th century, and one of its greatest explorers. In 2004, his collection of 38,000 negatives and 71 personal albums were accepted by the UK government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the Pitt Rivers Museum.