SOME of Oxford’s most weird and wonderful artefacts will emerge from dusty shelves and into the light, thanks to a £1m grant.

The Pitt Rivers Museum in South Parks Road has won £1,049,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The money will be spent on more staff, improving displays and creating new public activities at the 128-year-old museum.

Museum special projects officer Helen Hales said: “A lot of work went into this bid so we are very relieved and excited. It has been about 18 months in the making.”

The cash is for the museum’s £1.6m VERVE, or Visitors, Engagement, Renewal, Visibility and Enrichment, project.

Over the next five years, it plans to make major changes to the museum to help improve the facility for its 376,000 annual visitors.

Mrs Hales said: “We have had a lot of ideas about what we would like to do, but we haven’t had the people or the resources to do it. So we are going to recruit a six-person project team who will deal with everything from collections and conservation to education.

“We have got record visitors now, more people coming in than ever before and lots of people do love the museum.

“But their perception of it might be that it’s a jumble of curiosities with no order and they don’t know the history or meaning behind it.”

The museum was founded in 1884 and houses more than 600,000 artefacts from Hawaiian feather cloaks to masks from Japan, Africa, Melanesia and North America.

They are arranged by type of artefact rather than by geographical area.

Mrs Hales said: “We are not going to be changing the museum itself but we will be improving it with new lighting, new reading displays and new interpretations of some of the collections.

“We’ll also be making the most of our digitised archives and running demonstrations, workshops, talks and after-hours events so people.”

She added: “We’re not changing in the sense of moving things around or ripping things out.

“It’s about keeping the magic, but making it easier to understand what is there.”

The museum has raised an additional £300,000 itself and is now hoping to raise a further £300,000 to complete the project.

Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East Stuart McLeod said: “This fantastic project will really bring the museum’s collections to life for everyone to explore.”