During my March 2019 stay in Oxford, I also had the chance to explore at least some sights of the famous English city. One of the best rated places in town is the Museum of Natural History driven by Oxford University. I visited it before I headed to the Saturday performance of Rock of Ages.
Oxford University Museum – Location & Admission
The museum is located at the edge of University Parks, North of city center. From the hotel I stayed in, the Cotswold Lodge, it was just a short walk
The admission is free. However, there is a suggested donation of 5 GBP. The museum is open daily, 10:00 to 17:00.
Oxford University Museum – The Building
Constructions of the building of the Oxford University Museum began in 1855. The adjacent Pitt Rivers Museum has been added some thirty years later. The most eye-catching part of the architecture are the iron pillars in the center holding a huge glass roof. A very interesting feature, though are the pillars and statues at the side of the building on ground floor. Each pillar is made of different material. There is a gallery, which is used for the cafe as well as for additional exhibition.
The statues close to the pillars show important scientists like Newton or Darwin.
Oxford University Museum – Exhibits
I would split the exhibits at the Oxford University Museum into three categories. Likely, the most eye-catching one due to the huge dinosaur exhibits are the historic skeletons. It is a massive collection of dinosaurs and extinct animals in the hall. The museum, though, features more than that. The collection of whale skeleton is very interesting as well. In one section, they also combine historic life forms with today’s equivalents, e.g. the mammoth with an Asian elephant.
Secondly, there is a huge collection of minerals and fossils. I am not at all an expect in that, unfortunately, but the sheer number of items is already fascinating. Unfortunately, it was hard to take pictures of the fluorescent exhibits, which is very lovely to see.
Finally, there is a vast number of stuffed animals. The most prominent one is likely the Oxford Dodo, a bird which did not survive the 17th century. But there are a lot of other interesting exhibits. Most of them are grouped by topics in glass displays. Some, like an American Black Bear, may even explicitly be touched. The Oxford University Museum of Natural History also features a wide collection of birds.
Pitt Rivers Museum
If you cross the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, you reach the Pitt Rivers Museum. Augustus Pitt Rivers, a former British army officer, donated his anthropological and archaeological collection of 20,000 items in 1884 to found the museum. Nowadays, the collection consists of 500,000 items. After visiting the great Natural History Museum, Pitt Rivers was just too loaded and too much for me – I am sure I would have loved the visit in better mental conditions.
Oxford University Museum – Services
One side of gallery level hosts a self-service cafe, which is very popular. On lower level, these is a large and broad range of items souvenir shop.
Oxford University Museum – My View
I loved the Bate Collection of Musical Instruments – but if you are in Oxford, no visit of the city is complete without watching the amazing Oxford University Museum. It is a massive and well structured place. I love the idea that you can even pet some of the stuffed animals. The collection of prehistoric skeletons is massive, of course. There is no doubt that this place is a Top Pick! – and it is even for free!
Other Top Picks
Here are all other reviews which I rated as excellent and assigned the Top Pick! Award: