We were making our way to the Pitt Rivers Museum, and the only way that you can access that particular University museum is by going into and through the Natural History Museum.
It was quite large and bright, and as with every museum of this time there were dinosaur bones and many "stuffed" animals.
In fairness, it was quite busy and there was a very good atmosphere - I am unsure if it was just that particular Sunday; however there were many families and younger people around.
Admission is free and there is a reasonable shop.
These two museums are among Oxford's finest - and conveniently located in one building.
The Museum of Natural History is a good place to go to with children who might not be as fascinated by college architecture as their parents. Here they can see many preserved specimen of curious animals such as a globefish or several crocodiles. Furthermore, there are a lot of animal skeletons, ranging from dinosaurs to hippos, from pigs to horses. Lots of activities for children such as hands-on sessions or simply the possibility to draw a picture of their favourite animals make the museum worth a trip.
The Pitt Rivers Museum might be of more interest to the older ones. It was founded in 1884 when Lieutenant Pitt-Rivers gave his collection to the university under the condition that the university opened a chair for anthropology. Oxford University did so, and thus received a really interesting collection of some 20,000 man-made items. Nowadays, there are more than 500,000! What can be seen there? Pitt-Rivers was interested in the customs of peoples from all over the world, so you can find animal bone whistles, arctic clothing, fetishes, hats, toys made from rare woods and thousands of other things. It is really interesting to walk through the maze of display cases and see how humans all over the world lived their lives. One of the Pitt-Rivers' biggest (or rather smallest) attractions are the shrunken heads. It would go beyond the frame of this tip to explain the process of shrinking a head, but it's really incredible to take a look at the result: a microscopic, rather dull-looking human head.
One of the most memorable experiences in Oxford for me is my visit to the Ashmolean Museum. Lonely Planet promised "a stunning collection of antiquities as well as European and British art". For once, this was an understatement.
The museum really holds a carefully selected collection of the best in art, archaeology and more. It is anything but boring or repetitive, because there are only a few items of each period, each style, each artist, and wherever you go there is something new and different and exciting to see.
The museum opened in 1683 in another building on Broad Street which todays houses the History of Science Museum. The present large building was built in the neoclassical style, and very recently a new wing, built in a modern style, was added; this enabled to museum to display more items from its vast collection.
The painting galeries have works by Rembrandt, Breughel, Turner and Picasso, to name a few.
In the sculpture gallery my favorite was "the Elderly Fisherman" of 200 AD, found at the Hadrianic baths in Asia Minor. While most sculptures of that period depicted gods, kings or military leaders, this one depicts a common fisherman, but his realistically sculpted face is as interesting and deep as any king's.
There are some exquisite 15th-16th century tapestries and musical instruments. There is a porcelain gallery, and a few galleries of Asian art; my favorite there were modern Japanese paintings in a mixture of traditional and modern style.
On a very different subject: one showcase contains National Equitable Labour Exchange banknotes from Robert Owen's early socialist society, one bearing the value of "Eighty Hours" (of work, of course; see photo).
Oxford's Ashmolean Museum is the home of a vast collection of paintings, sculpture, pottery and other artefacts from all over the world. From every corner of the world ~ Egyptian, Roman, Byzantian, Greek etc etc. The museum first opended in 1683 and used to display a stuffed Dodo ...until it rotted!
The collection of European Rennaissance art is sometimes stunning, dating from the 15th century. I went to see the art but was more amazed by some of the wonderful frames around the paintings. And the incredibly decorative furniture scattered around the galleries.
What is very nice is that you can get right up close, there are no rope barriers or unfriendly security staff.
Something for everyone, the kids will like the Egyptian mummies and there are regular lunchtime tours and talks for the grown-ups.
If I lived in Oxford I would be visiting this museum every week. With FREE admission it is very possible!! Closed Mondays, normal opening hours 10 till 6pm.
UPDATE: the Ashmolean now has a fabulous modern (and large) rear extension, as well as a rooftop restaurant, which opened in 2009.
I have to say that very often City and Town Musuems are a little disappointing - however that is rewally up to each visitor to make up their minds upon. This is cited as being "..treasure trove of Oxford's past....."
The musuem highlights both the City and University's past and brings it together rather well.
Founded in 1683, the Ashmolean is the oldest public museum in Britain and one of the oldest in the world. It is a museum of art and archeology and displays its collections in the Departments of Antiquities, Eastern Art and Western Art in addition to the Heberden Coin Room. I must say I preferred the mummies at the Ashmolean to those at the British Museum, where I thought their smell was going to make me sick.
Apart from the permanent exhibitions, the Museum organises temporary ones as well as lectures, films and workshops on art and archeology. Although admission to the museum is free, you may have to pay for those. Booking a seat is advisable. For more information on the current events, consult their webpage.
While you are there, visit the Museum Shop, one of the best souvenir shops in Oxford. And finally, take a rest in their cafe. You will need it after walking through all those rooms.
No flash photography, video cameras or camcorders.
The Museum has a lift to all floors and a wheelchair is available on application to the staff.
Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday - 10 am. to 5 pm.
Sunday - 12 noon to 5 pm.
Photo by Barbara Molland
In the UK, this archeological museum is second only to the British Museum in London. It contains countless treasures and historical artifacts. Founded in 1683, it is also among the world's oldest public museums. And it's free.
The oldest museum in the United Kingdom and home to many fabulous collections and priceless artifacts all housed in a huge and stunningly elegant neo-classical building which you can't miss in it's dominating position on the corner of Beaumont St & St. Giles.
The museum greets you with a wonderful sculpture gallery adorned with classical statues and is particularly strong in it's collections of middle eastern and far eastern antiquities, Italian Renaissance painting as well as Flemish & Dutch 17th century works with also, on a personal note, some priceless Pre-Raphaelite works including Dante Gabriel Rossetti's "Dante on the First Anniversary of the Death of Beatrice" and "Reverie".
It is also renowned for it's ancient British antiquities including Viking silver, many Anglo-Saxon treasures and perhaps most famously, the stunning "Alfred Jewel" belonging to King Alfred the Great (871-899 AD) who legend has always considered the founder of Oxford, although apparently it's not the case..
The museum of Oxford is housed in the historic Town Hall. The Museum of Oxford, so the tourist guide tells me, tells the story of the city and the University using finds from local archaeological excavations including an outstanding Medieval collection. However since I had little time to go in and wanted to see a lot other things I took this picture outside. Just one of the outstanding buildings, one out of many, in Oxford
The Ashmolean is the oldest museum in the country.
The origin of the collection goes way back to Lambeth, London. There in a pub called the Ark, the 17th-century naturalist and royal gardener John Tradescant displayed the extensive collection of rarities and curiosities gathered on his trips to Europe or given to him by sea captains. After his death in 1638, Tradescant's son, also called John added numerous items from the New World. The collection was bequeathed to Ashmole who presented it to the university. Items from the Ark can be seen in the Tradescant Room on the first floor. They include Guy Fawkes' lantern and as the star attraction, Powhatton's Mantle. Powhatten was a Virginian Native American Chief and the father of Pocahontas.
The Antiquities Department has a fine Egyptian section and extensive displays covering Ancient Greece, Rome and the Near East as well as Dark-Age Europe and Anglo-Saxon Britain. It is in the latter section that the museum's most famous artefact, the Alfred Jewel, is kept. Found in Somerset in 1693, it is regarded as the finest piece of Saxon art ever discovered. It bears the inscription Aelfred mec heht gewyrcan('[King]Alfred had me made').
The other attraction is the Department of Western Art on the first floor, which includes drawings by Michaelangelo and Raphael, as well as The Hunt in the Forest, painted by the Florentine artist Paolo Uccello in 1466.
Sadly I have to admit, that the day which we visited this Museum, they were preparing for the next exhibition. Only the bookshop and cafe were open on that particular day. They do have a rather good musuem shop!
The Oxford University Museum of Natural History is a glorious Victorian Gothic building that opened to the public in 1860.Designed as a cathedral to science,the main display area is the Great Court,with a glass roof supported by 30 composite cast iron columns-a masterpiece of Victorian engineering.The court is surrounded by four arcades in the form of a cloister.
The central aisle of the Great Court features some Oxford treasures:the Dodo remains a connection to 'Alice in Wonderland',and the Oxfordshire dinosaurs.There are also impressive collections of minerals,insects,and biodiversity.The Earth Materials aisle has displays of meteorites,rocks and minerals.At the far end is a case of Fluorescent minerals in the form of a giant crystal.Extinct Reptiles features the giant reptiles of the Mesozoic era.At the front of this aisle are freestanding tables with Touchable Birds,animals,rocks and fossils.The lower vertebrates aisle is devoted to the diversity of lower vertebrates-fish,reptiles and amphibians and their early relatives.The Mammals and Birds aisle contains examples of many rare and attractive species.
The ground floor arcades house new displays on Evolution.These approach the topic from a historical perspective as well as explaining modern scientific ideas.A sequence of cases devoted to the evolution of Primates and of humans follows.The walls of the east and south arcades are deidicated to the History of Life.The display begins with a huge slab of sandstone crowded with giant Trilobites.The story of life on our planet follows,with more than a thousand fossils on display.The inner sides of the north,east and south arcades are occupied by table-top cases devoted to the biodiversity of Invertebrates.The displays combine spectacular colour photographs of live animals in their natural habitats with actual specimens and fossils.
Upstairs four galleries overlook the Great Court.On the inner side are displays of Shells,Insects and Plants.In the north-east corner are Gemstones.The Geology of Oxfordshire is displayed on the east wall,Birds on the north and more Insects on the south.The west wall is used for temporary art exhibition.
Entry is free and opening hours are 10am till 5pm every day.
Goregous Minerals, ancient bones, dinosaur eggs, dead birds and marsupials- oh my! I was both favorably fascinated and creeped out here at Oxford University Natural History Museum (not to be confused by the Museum of the History of Science). There is a great variety of specimens to view up close from the classes of geology, entomology (insects) and zoology (mammals).
Kids and adults alike who has that special jurassic fascination will absolutely love it here, especially since many of the dead animals can be touched. Many will also like the Alice in Wonderland displays, featuring original manuscripts by the town's very own son, Lewis Carroll, who frequently visited the museum.
Check website for family-friendly events going on at the museum.
For those disabled needing accessibility, pay extra attention to the section on access on the website (listed below)
open from 10 AM -5 PM (17:00)
Sunday, 2 to 5 p.m.
Closed on Mondays.
Here's a small list of some museums:
Bodleian Library at Broad Street
Pitt Rivers Museum at South Parks Road
Oxford University Museum of Natural History Parks Road
The Bate Collection of Musical Instruments at Faculty of Music, St Aldate's
The Ashmolean Museum at Beaumont Street
Museum of the History of Science at Broad Street
The Oxford Story at Broad Street
Museum of Modern Art at Pembroke Street
I choose to combine these two different museums together because they're the only I've visited in Oxford.
Both are free of charge.
Ashmolean is about figures and statues of Roman, Greek and Egyptian figures. It's relatively big that you may cover it in 2 or 3 hours.
There is also a souvenir shop at the end of your journey.
Science Museum is small. You'd be required to carry your big backpack or bag at the front of your body or at your side but not on your back, so you'd have less chances to hit anything in the museum by accident. This museum contains interesting old instrument on astronomy, mathematics and photography. There is a section includes Einstein's writing and equations on the blackbaord--Bye-Bye Blackboard section.