The Museum of Oxford is a museum dedicated to telling the story of Oxford and its people. It is located in the Town Hall on St. Aldate’s Road, next to Corpus Christi college. It is quite a small museum, with only two galleries, yet has a collection of over 40,000 objects, so, is great for a quick detour when visiting the Town centre. Despite the size, it has many interactive features and audio options, which are sure to hold your interest. This is one museum you should visit with children.
You can get the Henry Hare’s Museum Explorer Backpacks to become a museum detective! Use the clues and cards to uncover Oxford’s exciting history! Also, you can get different trail sheets from the reception. They also offer sensory backpacks which include ear defenders for when it gets noisy, a mini torch for when it’s hard to see, a magnifying glass for little details, an animal puppet to keep you company and a fidget toy. They hold family events every holiday and half term – check out the What’s On page to see what’s coming up next!
Back to what is in the museum. As the name indicates, the Museum of Oxford tells the story of Oxford and its people from its earliest days to the present day in a fun and engaging way. The collection includes archaeological finds, historical documents, and works of art. Rather than most museums of such kind, where a city’s history is presented in chronological order, here, Oxford’s history is featured according to different themes like Morris Motors/ BMW mini, Civil war in Oxford, Alice in Wonderland etc. The material is presented in a fun way e.g. the section on pubs has a board where you are asked which symbol stands for which? The museum also tells you a bit about Oxford’s not so great past (like the spikes used on the wall to divide locals in Cutteslowe.. like really??)
So what is in it for children? I was surprised as to how much there was and I love it when museums do that. The first thing you will see is a mini archaeological dig. There was rubber ‘sand’ in here with digging tools. You had to find items hidden in the pit and cross them off on the leaflet. Which kid would not be tempted to get their hands in! There is a Capes Counter at the end. You can play the shop keeper or be the shopper to dress up in latest Victorian fashion (with hats!). Ay made me a receipt of a million pounds after he made me a dress. Again, It was fun 🙂
Ay loved digging but we spent most of our time listening to and looking at the “typhoid story” . It was a brilliant audiovisual screen with mysteries to be solved at the end. Ay really got interested in it. We did all three and learnt in a fun way, how important it is to clean hands after using the loo or before eating food in a fun way.
Another really interesting bit was the Oxford story desk. Basically, there are objects in a box placed on shelf. You can pick one and put it on the table. The table starts playing a video which tells you all about it. It was super cool!
Museum of Oxford is perfect for children. It is small, is perfectly placed in the town centre, and has many interactive features to keep you occupied. You won’t spend more than an hour here though. We were the only ones in the museum when we visited but I think it may get a bit crowded if there were many people.
Address: Oxford Town Hall, St Aldate’s, Oxford, OX1 1BX.
Free entry but donations welcome
No dedicated parking but you can park in central oxford or Westfield, which is always a nightmare. We took the bus, which added to the adventure, and If you are able to, that is what I would recommend (to save the cost of expensive oxford parking and hassle of having to constantly look at the watch to avoid overstaying). You can use park and ride (Find the one closest to you HERE) but If you do want to drive in, the best and cheapest option (in my opinion) is to park in the West gate car park, which is an easy walk to the town centre, instead of at and around St. Giles street. Visit the Westgate Oxford website for uptodate prices.
Toilets and baby facilities on site (breast feeding friendly)
The café is located within the Town Hall, open at certain hours and offers a range of hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, baguettes, cakes and other snacks. There are plenty of options in the town centre though
Not enough space for Picnic inside but you can do so at Christ Church meadow is just a five-minute walk away. Alternatively, you can enjoy the Westgate’s mini-meadow: it’s free and undercover. University Parks is also close
Buggy friendly. There is an accessible entrance on the corner of St Aldates, opposite the Sainsburys. Press the door buzzer and someone will let you in. You are welcome to leave prams while you browse our museum, but they are left at the owner’s risk.
Dogs not allowed.
We headed next to the The Ashmolean Museum (considered to be the world’s first university museum, which I have reviewed separately), but there are a number of museums within walking distance of each other. If your little one loves dinosaurs or fossils, then Oxford university museum of Natural History is a must with its full length Dino skeletons, huge triceratops skull, other animal skeletons such as giraffe and elephants, giant ammonite, an actual meteorite etc etc. Pitts river museum is also free and accessible through the Oxford Natural History Museum, so you get a double whammy. Oxford History of Science museum is also close by, though I don’t think it is suitable for small children. You can find Einstein’s blackboard with his writing on it. If you can spare some money, then the Story Museum is well worth it.
Want to take it easy? Enjoy a stroll in the university parks or a picnic near the Christ Church meadow afterwards. It costs nothing to just walk along Oxford historic streets and take the sights in, but if you wanted to make it fun and go hunting for treasures such as statues, carvings, quirky signs and street decorations as you go around these places, then get a treasure trail map (for 6.99£ including delivery but you can use my affiliate link for 10% off HERE or simply by using the coupon code OXFMUM).