Museum of Oxford

Children in Explore Oxford using our interactive bike ride
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Visit the Museum of Oxford’s permanent Explore Oxford galleries at the front of Oxford Town Hall to discover the story of Oxford and its people.

The Museum also offers an exciting programme of temporary exhibitions and events. Based in the Town Hall Gallery, Gallery Corridor and Old Museum contemporary event space, these range from exhibitions by local artists to exhibitions curated by local community groups.

The Museum's Explore Oxford galleries are the only museum exhibition, in a city of world-class museums and heritage offers, to tell the story of Oxford and its people.

Explore Oxford presents our city's past and present in two dramatically different spaces:

Explore the past - Walk into City Engineer, William White's office and step back into 1897 when the current Town Hall was first opened. Rummage through William White's desk drawers to find out what the City Engineer at Oxford Council was working on, check out his drawing table and get an insight into how much Oxford has changed since it was founded around 810 AD.

Explore the present - Continue into the modern Oxford Gallery and take a virtual high-speed bike ride. The four bike rides take you north, south, east and west from the Town Hall taking in the city's highlights as well as to places you don't normally get to see, including BMW's MINI plant.

On your journey, you will meet a wealth of Oxford characters who will tell you the story of the city, including:
•Tamesibugus (150 AD) a Roman Potter who worked near modern Headington,
•David and Licoricia (1200s) Jewish residents of Oxford whose house almost certainly stood on the site of the Town Hall,
•John Davenant (1570-1622) Mayor of Oxford and master vintner who ran the Crown Inn on Cornmarket Street,
•Sarah Jane Cooper (1848- 1932) wife and business partner of Frank Cooper – makers of the world-famous Cooper's Oxford Marmalade.

Venue Type:

Museum, Gallery

Opening hours

Mon - Sat 10:00-17:00 Last entry at 16:30
Sat 1000 -1700 Last entry 1630

Closed: Sundays and Public Holidays

Admission charges



  • Museums Association

Additional info

School Resource Packs; Language School Work Sheets; Themed drop-in activities and special event days for all the family. Held during the school holidays.

The Museum of Oxford is the only museum that is dedicated to the history of the City and University. For more than a thousand years, Oxford has played a central role in English History.

Before the first student took his first lesson at the University, saints walked here, kings were crowned here and parliaments debated here. Situated closed to the heart of England and connected directly with London via the Thames, Oxford has long been an alternative capital city.

The story of Oxford is vividly brought to life through original artefacts, college treasures, and local characters. The Museum is the essential starting point for any visit to the city.

Collection details

Archaeology, Archives, Coins and Medals, Costume and Textiles, Decorative and Applied Art, Industry, Literature, Natural Sciences, Personalities, Social History, Toys and Hobbies, Weapons and War

Key artists and exhibits

  • Alice in Wonderland; Lewis Carroll; Siege of Oxford; Jan Wyck; Oxford University; Morris Motors; William Morris; Victorian Oxford; Temporary Exhibitions;Medieval Oxford; Civil War in Oxford

Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
Oxford community member with an object to become part of the exhibition

40 Years, 40 Objects

  • 28 August 2015 — 20 February 2016 *on now

An exhibition of forty objects selected by the local community to tell the story of their city. To celebrate its 40th anniversary, the Museum of Oxford has been working with local people and community groups to bring together objects which reflect their experiences and memories of Oxford over the past four decades. Visitors will be able to explore Oxford’s recent history through everyday objects, historic artefacts and personal mementoes. 40 Years, 40 Objects will also feature an exciting spotlight loan from a national museum and artwork and digital stories created especially for the exhibition.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
Oxford Town Hall's Main Hall

Oxford Town Hall Heritage Tours

  • 10 October 2015 11am-12pm
  • 24 October 2015 11am-12pm
  • 14 November 2015 11am-12pm
  • 28 November 2015 11am-12pm
  • 12 December 2015 11am-12pm
  • 9 January 2016 11am-12pm
  • 23 January 2016 11am-12pm
  • 13 February 2016 11am-12pm
  • 27 February 2016 11am-12pm
  • 12 March 2016 11am-12pm
  • 26 March 2016 11am-12pm
  • 9 April 2016 11am-12pm
  • 23 April 2016 11am-12pm

Join the Museum of Oxford as we take you on a tour around Oxford's magnificent Town Hall. This grade II* listed building was and still is the place where all of the big decisions for Oxford are made.
Did you know that our magnificent Main Hall was once a hospital during the First World War?
And that the public library of Oxford used to be housed within the Town Hall until the 1970s?
There is so much more to this magnificent building then the architecture; the stories of the people who have used and enjoyed this Town Hall past and present are unravelled and explored by our guides.

Each tour will take in the:

Medieval Crypt and city plate

-Explore Oxford's Jewish heritage

The Court Room

-Explore the multi-functionality of the Town Hall and its judicial past

The Council Chamber

-Explore where the council still meet to make the big decisions about Oxford

Turner of Oxford Watercolours

-Explore one of Oxford's most prolific painters, a contemporary of the great William Turner

Civic Plate display

-Explore out Great Mace, the largest ceremonial mace in the country and still present at council meetings and the 'beating of the bounds' ceremony

Explore Oxford!
-Explore our fantastic museum galleries, seek out how Oxford developed and some of the people that have shaped its past

All tours start at 11am unless otherwise stated and last approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. Please note that the Town Hall is fully accessible apart from the crypt which is only accessed via several stairs. All rooms visited on tour are subject to availability.

Suitable for

  • 18+


£4.50 per person (advance booking)
£5 per person (on the day)
£4 per concession (Senior citizens, students and young people under the age of 15) advance only

All money made by the tours goes towards the development of the Museumand its services. We are currently in the midst of a big redevelopment so we can show and explain more of Oxford’s history. Your patronage is much appreciated!


'Museum of Oxford' logo, text in a woodcut style

40 Objects Family Trail

  • 3 October 2015 — 19 February 2016 *on now

This trail takes you to the ‘40 Years, 40 Objects' exhibition where you can discover and sketch some of the fascinating local objects on display. You can also find out more about some of the colourful personalities from Oxford's past and put your observation and drawing skills to the test. This trail is one of the activities in the ‘Get Creative Family Arts Festival'.

Mon-Sat, 10am-4.30pm

Suitable for

  • 5-6
  • 7-10
  • 11-13


Drawing Trail

  • 9 October — 1 November 2015

This trail takes you to the 'Forty Years, Forty Objects' Exhibition at the Museum where you can discover and sketch some of the fascinating objects on display. You can also find out more about some of the colourful personalities from Oxford’s past and put your observation and drawing skills to the test.Trails are free and can be collected from the Museum shop between 10 and 4.30pm.Available throughout the Festival period (9th October - 1st November)

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
Illustration depicting a coroners inquest

Before CSI: Crime, Medicine and Science in History - Dr Katherine Watson

  • 12 October 2015 1:30-2:30pm

Join us and Dr Katherine Watson from Oxford Brookes University for the first of a fascinating series of lectures from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Trace the history of forensics from the early modern period to the present, through insanity, poisoning, infanticide and criminal identification, showing the impact of legal systems, medical practitioners and the rise of the ‘expert’ in Britain, Europe and North America.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children
Side view of a real human skull, that of an executed convict turned into an anatomical model

The Abingdon Waterturnpike Murder: 8th October, 1787 - Mark Davies

  • 13 October 2015 6-7pm

FREE, 6-7pm, The Old Museum

The River Thames is a recurring theme within a factual murder mystery which sheds light on many unusual and emotive aspects of life in 18th-century Oxfordshire and Berkshire. Local author Mark Davies gives a talk about the case.

Suitable for

  • 18+
Cover of the book, with images depicting men of the International Brigades and people with signs demonstrating for aid to be sent to Spain, both food and military.

No Other Way: Oxfordshire and the Spanish Civil War 1936-39 - Liz Woolley and Valery Rose

  • 17 October 2015 10:30am-12:30pm

Local historians, Liz Woolley and Valery Rose, talk about their new book on Oxfordshire’s involvement in the Spanish Civil War. Book signing also available.

Suitable for

  • 18+

Spooky Skeletons Family Workshop

  • 26 October 2015 10:30am-3pm
  • 29 October 2015 10:30am-3pm

Take a look at the ‘Dance of Death’ wall paintings taken from Alderman Fletcher’s Oxford house and make your own dancing skeletons. You can find out more about grave decorations from the past and see St Frideswide’s grave slab. There will also be an opportunity to have a go at doing some brass rubbings.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
Damifino! Museums at Night at the Museum of Oxford


  • 31 October 2015 6:45-10pm

Join the Museum of Oxford on Halloween for a Victorian spooktacular. Enter if you dare and be guided around the scarier side of the Museum’s collections, share your fears and spooky moments in Oxford, eat and drink like a Victorian and relish in some eerie events taking place in The Old Museum throughout the evening.

What will happen?


Suitable for

  • 18+
  • 16-17
  • 14-15
  • Any age


Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

A City at War!

Travel back in time to Oxford in the Civil war and discover what it was like to live in a city under siege. Food shortages, disease, water pollution and overcrowding are just a few of the hardships encountered in a city at war.
Pupils will be encouraged to investigate everyday life in Oxford betwen 1642 -1646 by exploring room settings in the galleries and handle objects for clues.


  • Museum of Oxford Learning Department

How to obtain

Telephone/Email for more information or to book.
01865 252819 /

Darkside of the Victorians: Children on Trial (KS2)

Every pupil has a part to play in this re-enactment of Victorian children's trial using real Oxford cases.
Held in Oxford's Town Hall court room.
Combine this workshop with a visit to the Oxford Castle Unlocked to explore the consequences of their crimes! (additional £4 per student)


  • Museum of Oxford Learning Dept

How to obtain

Telephone/Email for more information or to book.
01865 252819 /

Medieval Rubbish

Rummage through the remains of a Medieval rubbish pit to discover what life was really like in Oxford over 500 years ago. This workshop aims to help children find out what an archaeologist is and how s/he interprets the past through objects. The handling colection comes from a real excavation in the Westgate Shopping Centre area. In the galleries, pupils will explore domestic life in Medieval Oxford.


  • Museum of Oxford Learning Department

How to obtain

Telephone/Email for more information or to book.
01865 252819 /

Stories From the Grave

An interactive gallery and handling workshop investigating the evidence for Anglo-Saxon life in Oxford, with three diffrent activity options.


  • Museum of Oxford Learning Department

How to obtain

Telephone/Email for more information or to book.
01865 252819 /

Time Detectives

Pupils, acting as time detectives, take part in an interactive tour of the galleries. Followed by a workshop session where they will be encouraged to apply their historical skills to complete a series of hands-on challenges.
Pupils are encouraged to develop a sense of chronology and awareness of why and how things have changed.


  • Museum of Oxford Learning Department

How to obtain

Telephone/Email for more information or to book.
01865 252761 /

Washday Blues!

The handling collections in this workshop allow children to touch the past and investigate the evidence from Victorian Oxford. Pupils learn about a typical Victorian washday in Oxford in the late 19th century.
They will explore objects used to wash and iron clothes before the widespread use of electricity. They will be encouraged to make comparsions and contrasts between 'now and then' and 'rich and poor'.


  • Museum of Oxford Education Department

How to obtain

Telephone/Email for more information or to book.
01865 252819 /

We'll Meet Again: The Home Front in Oxford

Find out what life was like in Oxofrd during World War Two for evacuees, ARP wardens and the women who worked for the war effort.


  • Museum of Oxford Learning Dept

How to obtain

Telephone/Email for more information or to book.
01865 252819 /

Museum of Oxford
Town Hall
St. Aldates




Museum of Oxford Gift Shop

01865 252334

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.