Inspire 9 & 10 – The Museum of Natural History

About The Museum of Natural History:

The Oxford University Museum of Natural History was established in 1850. The museum displays an extensive array of natural history exhibits including dinosaurs, minerals, fossils, and taxidermy animals. In 1860 the museum played host to an influential debate, in which key figures advocated for and against Charles Darwin’s ‘Theory of Evolution’. Now, the museum offers numerous in-person exhibits, allowing school groups, families, and members of the public to enjoy the exhibits. The museum also has a youth forum for 16–19-year-olds, encouraging them to get involved with museum activities and initiatives.

Activity 1 – The Oxford Dinosaurs

This webpage explores some of the museum’s most prominent dinosaurs, some of which were discovered just a few kilometers north of the site. On this page, you can find out all about the context behind their discovery, before comparing the various dinosaurs which roamed Jurassic Oxford. You can also look see how Oxfordshire’s climate changed during this period, and learn more about the implications that the environment had on both the living environment of dinosaurs and subsequent fossil formation.

Activity 2 – ‘2020: The Sphere that Changed the World’

This webpage explores an exhibit created by Angela Palmer entitled ‘2020: The Sphere that Changed the World’. Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, Palmer was inspired to combine science with art, creating a glass representation of the coronavirus capsid sphere. She borrowed modelling information from computational Biology expert Professor Dmitry Korkin, and engraved this data onto 28 sheets of glass. The subsequent video explains how the project developed, alongside the creation process and the meaning Palmer wanted to convey.

Activity 3 – Settlers: Genetics, geography, and the peopling of Britain

This project explores the relationship between the genetics and geography of Britain. This resource highlights numerous factors which have influenced settlement change over time, including fluctuating climatic conditions, invasion and migration. For this project, the museum has taken DNA samples from 2000 British people, and produced a map which highlights links between ancestry and geographical location.


Activity 3 highlights how factors such as changing climatic conditions and migration have affected settlement change and populations over time. Many of these factors continue to shape society now as we face similar collective issues.

Select a city of your choice and consider the following questions:

  •  What are some of the contemporary issues influencing population settlement where you live?
  •  Have any of these factors forced individuals or groups to relocate to other locations as a result?
  • Have any of these factors resulted in more people moving to your area?