Lyra at the Pitt Rivers in His Dark Materials (c) BBC HBO Bad Wolf

Fans of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials can now view the actual props, costumes and artefacts used in the famous trilogy in Oxford’s museums.

The new collaborative exhibition Lyra’s World features in the very museums that inspired Pullman to write His Dark Materials, and aims to coincide with the BBC’s third and final series on Sunday night.

From the golden compass-like alethiometer to an amber spyglass and a subtle knife, these and other objects critical to Lyra’s journey are now on display in The Pitt Rivers, The Story Museum and The History of Science Museum.

Costumes on display at the History of Science Museum (c) Ian Wallman for the HSM

The award winning trilogy, written by famous author Philip Pullman, (who lives in Oxford), sold over 18 million copies worldwide, and the latest and final instalment of His Dark Materials series will be on BBC iPlayer on Sunday December 18, with episodes airing weekly on BBC1 (except Christmas Day). 

Fans can now view iconic costumes worn by the Master of Jordan College as well as Lyra, Will Parry, Mrs Coulter, Lord Asriel, Billy Costa, Roger Parslow, and Dr Mary Malone at The History of Science Museum on Broad Street which has also recreated Lyra’s study in Jordan College.

Visitors can see Lyra’s alethiometer there, alongside  astrolabes, astronomical compendia and sundials  from the museum’s collection, all of which were a source of inspiration for Pullman.

Alethiometer from His Dark Materials at the History of Science Museum (c) Andrea Ruddock

The Pitt Rivers Museum, which features in the book The Subtle Knife, and was a location for the TV series is now displaying an amber spyglass, seed pods from the Mulefa World and Mary Malone’s I Ching Sticks. They are integrated with the original historic displays that influenced Philip Pullman, including objects from the Arctic Circle.

Lyra’s coat, hat and gloves, Ruta Skadi’s dress, armour and throwing nails, and Mrs Coulter’s locket also feature in Lyra’s World which runs until April 2023. 

Lyra’s coat from His Dark Materials – Pitt Rivers Museum (c) Ian Wallman for the Pitt Rivers

At The Story Museum on Pembroke Street, visitors can discover the iconic subtle knife, the dress worn by witch Serafina Pekkala, and the green writing case and airmail letters written by John Parry to his wife.

These objects will appear alongside existing Story Museum exhibits including Pullman’s very own alethiometer, which he had specially commissioned in 2005. 

There will also be an immersive experience for those who want to relive the scene in which Will Parry is first presented with the knife in the Torre degli Angeli.

Amber Spyglass from His Dark Materials (c) Ian Wallman for the Pitt Rivers

His Dark Materials comprises three critically acclaimed novels  –  Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass – which have since been adapted for  television.

The trilogy follows Lyra Belacqua,  an orphan brought up in Oxford, who lives in a parallel universe in which science, theology and magic are entwined. 

Ruta Skadi’s dress from His Dark Materials (c) Ian Wallman for the Pitt Rivers

Dr Silke Ackermann, Director of the History of Science Museum, said: “It is such a delight to be collaborating on Lyra’s World to showcase the wonderful props and costumes from the popular and widely acclaimed BBC adaptation of ‘His Dark Materials’.

“Personally I have been wanting to juxtapose Lyra’s Alethiometer with the stunning instruments in our collection that inspired Philip Pullman for many years, so for me this is a dream come true.” 

Lyra’s World runs until April 2023

For more details go to:

The History of Science Museum 

The Pitt Rivers Museum 

The Story Museum