Oxford Museum of Natural History - Image courtesy ofMagnus D

Visiting Oxford > What to See > Museums & Art Galleries

Oxford University University Museum of Natural History

The Oxford University Museum of Natural History or OUMNH displays many of the University of Oxford’s natural history specimens. It also contains a lecture theatre that is still used by the university’s zoology, chemistry, and mathematics departments.

The University’s Honour School of Natural Science dates back to 1850, when Regius Professor of Medicine, Sir Henry Acland, began constructing the museum bringing together all the anatomical and natural history specimens that were spread around the city into a central display area.

The largest part of the museum’s collections consist of the natural history specimens from the Ashmolean Museum. The Christ Church Museum also donated its osteological and physiological specimens.

A Brief History of the Museum of Natural History

Nestled within the prestigious University of Oxford, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History stands as a testament to the pursuit of knowledge and the celebration of the natural world. Its rich history unfolds like the pages of a scientific epic, showcasing the evolution of both the institution and our understanding of the wonders of nature.

The origins of the museum trace back to the mid-19th century when visionary minds envisioned a space that would house collections of scientific significance. The renowned naturalist and anatomist Sir Henry Acland, along with others, played a pivotal role in championing the idea of a museum that would serve as a hub for teaching and research.

Museum of Natural History's Architecture

Designed by the esteemed architect Benjamin Woodward, the museum’s architectural splendor is a sight to behold. Its distinctive neo-Gothic style, characterized by intricate stonework and majestic arches, harmoniously integrates with the surrounding University buildings.

The iconic glass-roofed central court, also known as the “glass palace,” bathes the exhibits in natural light, creating a mesmerizing ambiance.

Collections and Exhibits

Since its official opening in 1860, the OUMNH has steadily expanded its collections to encompass a diverse array of specimens. The museum’s extensive holdings span zoology, entomology, paleontology, and mineralogy, with highlights including the world-famous Dodo specimen and the remains of the Oxfordshire dinosaurs. These exhibits not only serve as educational resources but also contribute to ongoing scientific research.

Visiting the Museum of Natural History

Today, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History stands as a living legacy to the curiosity-driven spirit that defines the pursuit of scientific knowledge. With its captivating exhibits, ongoing research initiatives, and commitment to education, the museum continues to be a vital center for understanding the wonders of nature and inspiring future generations of scientists and nature enthusiasts.

Website: https://www.oumnh.ox.ac.uk/

Address: Parks Rd, Oxford OX1 3PW

Phone: 01865 272950

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