As part of my studies I attend a variety of study trips to museums, at this point I’ve visited the Museum of Sheffield, RAF Hendon, the Ashmolean Museum and Hampton Court Palace with my department. With trips to Bradgate Park in Leicester, Twycross Zoo, Manchester and Norwich coming up over the next few weeks. This post will be about a trip I went on to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and my exploration of the city.
Firstly, for both UK residents and people visiting I would 100% recommend a trip to Oxford as it isn’t far from London and the city is so beautiful and quintessentially British it would be awful to miss out on.
Upon arrival in Oxford our main task for the day was to visit the Ashmolean with a set of questions in mind. The Ashmolean is a great museum for those with an interest in a classic museum experience as it has a variety of objects on display from across time as well as a nice art collection on the higher floors (Pictured below is a Neolithic skull). I enjoyed our visit there and entry is free, so its always worth a visit. Its also opposite the Randolph Hotel which features quite heavily in the TV shows Morse and Lewis (something I found pretty fun and exciting).
So after a few hours in the Ashmolean my friend and I headed out to explore Oxford, both of us wanted to go to a few other museums and so we headed for the Natural History Museum and the Pitt Rivers as they are in the same building. The Natural History Museum in Oxford is a great building, it is light and spacious and people behave exactly as they want to in the space, whether this be loudly, quickly, slowly or quietly – there is no atmosphere of control in terms of behaviour and it was lovely to see children running around enjoying their time in a museum. The Natural History Museum again has a range of displays, the centre of the space house the skeletons of animals and then other spaces have geological specimens and draws of insects. Its a lovely space to move through and explore and very family friendly. Below is a photo of a taxidermy bat I took, because I thought it was just so cute – it is part of an interactive display where visitors can touch casts of objects.
After exploring the Natural History Museum, we went into the Pitt Rivers Museum. This was a totally different experience to any I had ever had in a museum before and whilst some people on my course really didn’t like it, I loved it. The museum consists of cabinets, upon cabinets, upon cabinets of objects and below the cabinets are draws of more objects. The whole experience was so enthralling, pulling open draws to discover what was inside. Again this museum was filled with noise and groups of excited children running around and enjoying themselves – so not your typical more austere museum atmosphere, which is something some people didn’t like. This was the place we spent the most time in Oxford and I definitely am desperate to return. Obviously there are issues surrounding some objects in the collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum, but this can be said of everyone museum in the world and the Pitt Rivers does work hard on its links with source communities – something I believe is very important. Pictured below is an example of the cases in the museum, they do not have the typical layers and are instead displayed in a typological fashion.
After visiting these two museum we headed for the Bodleian Library (again a prominent feature is episodes of Morse and Lewis) to take some photos before heading in for a brief visit to the History of Science Museum, it was brief because the top floor was closed and a school was having a science lesson in the basement (WHICH IS REALLY JUST SO COOL). The History of Science Museum has a number of famous history science objects, such as Einsteins blackboard and T. E. Lawrence’s camera (Lawrence of Arabia). There was also a temporary exhibition on Antibiotics, which was pretty interesting. Again this is a museum I would like to return to as I didn’t feel I got to fully experience it.
Oxford was an amazing trip to take and all the Museums are free at the point of entry, much like the big museums in London. If you have any questions please feel free to ask and I will try to answer them best I can.