Welcome to the Museum of Natural History!
The Oxford University Museum of Natural History was built in 1860 to preserve important specimens relating to the natural world; today it holds over 7 million objects and 30,000 zoological type specimens. The building itself is an example of Victorian neo-Gothic architecture which was heavily influenced by John Ruskin – an architect who believed buildings should draw on the energy of the natural world. As well as many beautiful carvings of animals and plants found in the stonework of the Museum, 126 different British decorative rocks are found in pillars around the Museum courtyard. You can visit the Museum website here: https://www.oumnh.ox.ac.uk/.
A virtual visit
Use the resources below to tour around the Museum – first take a look at some of the Museum highlights, which have been chosen by the collections’ managers. Then use the 3D tour to look around the Museum and see if you can spot some of the highlights. Particularly, look out for the famous Oxford Dodo and the Oxfordshire Dinosaurs!
Contribute to the next Museum of Natural History exhibition
The Museum’s next exhibition (themed on the future of food) is currently in the planning stages, and the Livestock, Environment and People (LEAP) team who are planning it would really appreciate your help!
Learn more about our food, and how what we eat affects our health and our planet. There are some interactive quizzes to check how much you know – some of the answers may surprise you!
Looking through this information and answering the interactive questions will take most people around 20 minutes, and it’s up to you how much time you spend on the final activity. The ‘Finish later’ options at the bottom of each page will allow you to pause and pick up your progress at another time if needed. The LEAP team want to thank you in advance for your help – your thoughts and ideas will help create exhibitions which are more interactive for visitors!
Oxford Sparks create short (2-3 minute) animations which answer science research questions. The videos below are related to the science at the Museum of Natural History. Each video is provided as a link, with the science subjects most relevant to it in brackets.
- Hardy crops to tackle food insecurity (Biology & Human Geography)
- Ancient mysteries in marvellous mud (Palaeontology &Biology)
- Our mysterious ocean floor (Physical Geography & Physics)
The Royal Society is the independent scientific academy of the UK. They offer research grants to many UK scientists, and promote excellence in science research and learning. They host an annual exhibition called ‘Summer Science’, and this year this exhibition was hosted digitally. You may be interested in looking at their programme here.
Two of The Royal Society’s Summer School videos, related to natural history science, are shown below. First, learn about the careful illustrations that Robert Hooke used to illustrate the organisms that he saw down an early microscope, in Micrographia. Then, Brian Cox interviews scientists about historical scientists. We have highlighted Sir David Attenborough talking about Charles Darwin, but you may also want to view the other videos in this series, which can be found on the right hand playlist.
- Micrographia: turning the pages
- People of Science with Brian Cox – Sir David Attenborough on Charles Darwin