Oxford University Museum of Natural History

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Founded in 1860 as the centre for scientific study at the University of Oxford, the Museum of Natural History now holds the University’s internationally-significant collections of geological and zoological specimens, as well as substantial archival material. Housed in a stunning example of neo-Gothic architecture, the Museum’s growing collections underpin a broad programme of natural environment research, teaching and public engagement.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

Open daily 10.00-17.00
Open most Bank holidays

Closed Easter Sunday and Christmas

Admission charges

Admission free

Additional info

Cafe: The Museum café is situated on the upper gallery over-looking the dinosaurs. There are child-friendly options available and families are always welcome.

Parking: There is no public parking available at the Museum, although coaches for visiting groups are usually able to drop off in Parks Road outside the Museum. There is a limited amount of pay-and-display parking in Keble Road and St Giles. Oxford has four park-and-ride car parks on the Ring Road, with regular bus services to the city centre.

The Museum is about 10 minutes walk from Oxford city centre and about 15 minutes from Oxford station.

Disabled access: There is no public parking at the Museum, although disabled facilities are available to registered users. There is a lift to the upper gallery for wheelchair access. Registered guide dogs are allowed in the museum.

Group visits: It is essential for all groups planning to visit the Museum to make a booking at least 2 days before their visit. Please contact education@oum.ox.ac.uk or 01865 282451. Language and international groups can book a joint visit to the Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum.

Photography: Visitors are welcome to take photographs for their personal use. Professional photography may be arranged, in advance, with the Museum Administrator.

The entire collection of this museum is a Designated Collection of national importance.

Housed in an exceptional Grade 1 Victorian building (1860) of cast iron and glass, the University's collections are heavily used in research, teaching and public education. Highlights include the collections of: Hope and Dale, and the oldest known pinned insect (1702) in entomology; Buckland, Phillips, Daubeny, and Lyell (geology); Simmons (mineralogy); smaller collections from Burchell, Darwin, Wallace, Livingstone, Bell; and extensive modern collections.

The Tradescant collection, bequeathed to Oxford by Elias Ashmole in 1677 contains some of the oldest documented zoology specimens in the world, including the Oxford Dodo. Equally prominent are the associated archival materials, including those of the 'father of English geology', William Smith.

Collection details

Archaeology, Natural Sciences

Key artists and exhibits

  • Zoological, entomological, palaeontological, petrological and mineral specimens
  • The Dodo
  • Dinosaurs
  • Swifts
  • Designated Collection
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
Madagascar moth

Presenting... Madagascar

  • 22 September — 23 November 2015 *on now

The first in a series of native fauna-focused displays showcases fascinating specimens endemic to the island of Madagascar.

William Smith 1815 map

Handwritten in Stone

  • 9 October 2015 — 31 January 2016 *on now

A bicentenary exhibition to celebrate William Smith and his publication of the first geological map of England and Wales. Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Suitable for

  • Any age



Presenting... A Wartime Gift

  • 24 November 2015 — 25 January 2016

Minerals collected by German chemist Dr Hugo Müller, presented to the Museum in 1915 by his English widow Elisabeth, are rich in samples from both his native and adopted countries, then at war.

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.
William Smith

The Map that Changed the World

  • 13 October 2015 6-7pm *on now

Best-selling author Simon Winchester shares the extraordinary story of the father of English geology, William Smith. Part of the Handwritten in Stone exhibition programme. Book at: bit.ly/mnhevents


Geology of the Cotswolds

  • 24 October 2015 9am-5pm

Explore the geology of the Cotswolds and the legacy of William Smith, author of the world’s first stratigraphic map, with Professor Paul Smith. £65 Book at: bit.ly/mnhevents

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children






  • 28 — 30 October 2015

Celebrate the world beneath our feet with rocks, volcanoes and heroes of geology. Family Friendly talk at 3.30pm each day.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

London Volcano

  • 30 October 2015 From 6pm

A dramatised reconstruction on the Museum lawn of the 1902 eruption of the Saint Vincent volcano in the Caribbean.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Bats of Britain

  • 9 November 2015 7-8pm

Find out about the mysterious nocturnal lives of the bats of Britain with ecologist Dr Peter Shepherd. Oxfordshire Mammal Group members free / Non-members £3 / www.oxonmammals.org

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


£3 for non Oxfordshire Mammal Group members



Taxidermy Workshop

  • 14 — 15 November 2015 10am-5pm

Prepare your own taxidermy bird under the expert tuition of Derek Frampton (UK Guild
of Taxidermists). Four places on each date. £175 including specimen, materials and lunch. Book at: bit.ly/mnhevents

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


£175 - includes specimen, materials and lunch.



The Oxford Dodo: Culture at the Crossroads

  • 18 November 2015 5:30-6:30pm

Join an interdisciplinary panel to discuss the life and legacy of this famous creature and
take the opportunity to view the Dodo’s only organic remains. Info and booking: www.torch.ox.ac.uk/dodo

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children



Christmas Light Festival

  • 20 November 2015

As part of Oxford’s Christmas Light Festival celebrations the Museum will be open late. Check www.oum.ox.ac.uk for details.


TBC - check www.oum.ox.ac.uk

William Smith

How to Read Geological Maps

  • 21 November 2015 10am-5pm

Learn to read the landscape in four dimensions using a geological map. An opportunity to view the world’s first stratigraphic map created by William Smith 200 years ago. £65
Book at: bit.ly/mnhevents

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children





A Little Look at... Nursery Rhyme Animals

  • 26 November 2015 10:30-11am, 11:30am-12pm

An active, hands-on exploration telling the tales of animals in the Museum.

Suitable for

  • 0-4

Super Science Saturday

  • 28 November 2015 12-4pm

Investigate, experiment and discover the ground beneath your feet at our big Science Saturdays bonanza.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
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.

Oxford University Museum of Natural History
Parks Road






01865 272950


01865 272970

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.