Founded in 1884, Oxford's Pitt Rivers Museum now houses more than half a million artifacts – and it’s ever expanding.

Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers, an influential figure in the development of archaeology and anthropology, gifted his collection of more than 20,000 objects to the University of Oxford on the condition that a museum be built to house them, they should be displayed by function and that someone should be appointed to teach these subjects.

The Pitt Rivers Museum’s staff remain actively involved in upholding the Lt General’s wishes to this day. And, none more so than during their annual flagship event Pitt Fest – a day-festival bringing the museum’s collections to life, from behind the glass.

This is a worldwide collection with objects from many cultures past and present.

By grouping the objects according to how they were made or used, rather than by origin or age, our attention is focused on the creativity and skill with which humans have tackled the common problems of daily life and adjusted to the environment in which they’re situated, revealing how ordinary people have lived, thought and communicated.

There is no start or finish and no story to follow. It’s simply sufficient to wander through the dark maze of cases letting your curiosity lead you.

On any given day, there’s a lifetime’s worth of artefacts to inspire. I’ve clocked up over 30 years of rainy days myself to date. Yet, on every visit, there’s always something new to discover.

Once a year, the opportunity for the general public to get even closer to the collections is one not to be missed – with expert talks, hands-on workshops, live music and activities for all ages. For just one day only the museum is turned on its head – challenging any of those stuffy images and allowing us not just to look, but also to do.

Magic, masks and music; tattoos, toys and tools – where else would you get to handle a prehistoric flint hand axe, enjoy a chorus of Senegalese kora players or delve into the mechanics of a serpent’s skeleton by constructing your very own snake bone bracelet?

However, probably the most unusual activity on offer was the chance to find out what archaeologists can learn from 'waste' – by dissecting a (fake) coprolite…or ancient fossilised poo.

Knowing what a community ate can tell us a lot about how and why they lived in certain ways – such as what new foods were becoming abundant or absent in an area through factors such as trade or invasion.

Who knows what researchers of the future will uncover about this age of acceleration through our daily habits and the clues we leave behind. With new donations, bequests and purchases adding all the time coupled with a forward-thinking outlook, the Pitt Rivers Museum will no doubt be the go-to resource for further generations to come.