Oxford University Museum of Natural History prepares to reopen after "long, dark year"

By Culture24 Reporter | 17 January 2014

A lengthy rain break at Oxford's Museum of Natural History will end in style when it reopens with an Into the Light day of fun

A photo of a glass roof above a huge science museum made with neo-gothic architecture
The Oxford University Museum of Natural History will return in February© Mike Peckett
The neo-Gothic home of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, established in 1860 but closed since 2012 for a roofing job of immense complexity, will reopen with live bugs and bands next month, ending a 14-month restoration with “spotlight specimens” and newly-conserved whale skeletons.

More than 8,500 glass tiles have been individually removed from the roof, cleaned and resealed with a mastic silicone, in some cases being handmade to match their original Victorian originals as part of the £2 million project.

“This has been a long, dark year,” said Paul Smith, the museum Director who will give a speech on the dawn-til-dusk opening day.

“Although the closure has been a great opportunity to experiment with different ways of taking our specimens to the public, it will be very nice to see the doors opened again, and to have the sound of visitors filling the space once more – without them having to move around buckets to collect rainwater.”

Hundreds of the museum’s residents are currently being unwrapped, checked and replaced. The whale skeletons were lowered from their position above the court to receive treatment for the first time in more than a century before being returned in a new configuration.

As part of a range of lighting additions, specially-designed LED rings have been attached to the underside of the building’s original gas lamp fittings. The early opening time will also give visitors the option to try breakfast in the new café.

A programme of spring events will include a science demonstration extravaganza, a week-long festival of science and the arts and Reactions, an exhibition of beautiful images of butterflies and moths from the celebrated 18th-century manuscript of William Jones of Chelsea.

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