With its rich history of academia, it’s not surprising Oxford is home to some of the best museums in the country. Whether you prefer to soak up the culture at the Ashmolean, or have some fun at the kid-friendly Story Museum, you’ll be spoilt for choice here.
No visit to Oxford would be complete without exploring the Ashmolean. Founded in 1683, the University of Oxford’s museum of art and archaeology houses world famous collections, including everything from Egyptian mummies to Baroque art. The Ashmolean is vast, with four floors of treasures taking you through from the Ancient World to the present day. Put aside a whole day to really do the place justice, and stop to refuel at either the museum’s café or rooftop restaurant.
Step into the Pitt Rivers Museum and you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time. With half a million objects from all over the world crammed into glass cabinets and drawers, it has the atmospheric feel of a quirky Victorian museum. Displaying the collection of Lt-General Augustus Pitt-Rivers, the museum showcases a mind-boggling array of artefacts and curiosities as diverse as a giant totem pole and a Tanzanian canoe. It feels like a treasure trove of history. It’s a great place for children, with free drop-in family events and object handling opportunities throughout the year.
Housed in one of the most beautiful neo-Gothic buildings in the city, which it shares with the Pitt River Museum, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History is considered one of the finest natural history museums in the country. Famous for its spectacular display of dinosaurs in the main court – with Iguanodon and Tyrannosaurus skeletons towering over you as you step inside – as well as being home to the last remaining traces of the long extinct dodo, the museum has plenty of keep little (and big) kids very happy!
The Museum of the History of Science has an incredible collection of historic scientific instruments relating to astronomy, electricity, chemistry, medicine, photography and more. To really get the most out of your visit, join one of the guided tours around the museum, where you’ll find out more about the stories behind some of the weird and wonderful objects from the collections, as well as some history about the building. The museum also hosts regular family-friendly workshops and drop-in sessions.
Celebrating the importance and power of stories and reading, The Story Museum is a fun, interactive space for kids to let their imaginations run wild. From an animal safari story trail and displays by leading book illustrators to the starlit bedtime story world with live book readings, it’s the place to get children excited about reading. Don’t miss The Film Den, a cosy cinema space to watch classic TV and film adaptations of favourite stories.