Oxford University’s gardens, libraries and museums launch campaign promoting free events, exhibitions and visits

Campaign launched by Oxford University’s new Vice-Chancellor encourages local visitors to take advantage of the University’s gardens, libraries & museums during cost-of-living crisis

Oxford University’s gardens, libraries and museums have today launched a campaign to remind local residents of the incredible attractions on their doorstep that they can visit for free or at low cost.

As the cost-of-living crisis continues to hit, Oxfordshire residents will be looking for more things to do that offer great value. The University’s world-famous museums and the Weston Library (part of the Bodleian Libraries) are admission-free, while under 16s go free at the Botanic Garden and Arboretum. All offer a huge range of experiences, from exhibitions and displays to talks and events.  

There are four University museums to visit, all admission-free. The Ashmolean Museum, home to over 60 galleries of art and archaeology, is the perfect place to pop in to see a new display. The History of Science Museum, with its fascinating globes and timepieces, offers a self-guided tour. The Museum of Natural History, with its pre-historic dinosaurs and geology, is ideal for a weekend family outing; the Pitt Rivers Museum, with its amazing objects from world cultures, is perfect to visit at the same time, as it’s right next door. All four museums are in the city centre within easy reach of each other.  

Children in museum with rock

Also in the heart of Oxford are the historic Bodleian Libraries, which offer free exhibitions and events in the Weston Library or ticketed tours at the Old Bodleian Library. Just down the High Street the Botanic Garden, the oldest botanic garden in the UK, is the perfect place to take time out in the most stunning scenery. A quick drive or bus journey out of town takes you to Harcourt Arboretum in Nuneham Courtenay where visitors can take a wintery walk amidst the soaring redwoods or marvel at the Bluebell Wood later in the spring. Both the Botanic Garden and Arboretum are a favourite for families, with free entry for under-16s.

Professor Irene Tracey, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University says ‘The gardens, libraries and museums are real gems and a fantastic resource for the University and the city. As a local girl growing up in Oxford and as a mother of three children, I know from personal experience just how much joy these gardens, libraries and museums have brought to me and my family. They are still firm family favourites. So, with so much to see and so much on that’s free, please come and enjoy your local university hometown and all its offerings.’

Each site will be running a range of free events over the winter and spring, including family events and activities over February half term and the Easter break. Free exhibitions that visitors can enjoy include:

girl with headphones

The campaign promoting free or low-cost access to the University’s Gardens, Libraries and museums runs until April. It uses animated video ads that reveal the fascinating and unusual things to discover and fun things to do across the sites – from ‘mummies and masterclasses’ at the Ashmolean Museum to ‘manuscripts and maps’ at the Bodleian Libraries.    

Entry to the Ashmolean Museum, History of Science Museum, Museum of Natural History, Pitt Rivers Museum and the Weston Library is free of charge. Entry to the Old Bodleian Library (tours) is ticketed and prices vary. Entry to the Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum is £6 for adults, but free for University staff and students, as well as under 16s. See individual websites for details.


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Discover the Ashmolean Museum


Discover the Bodleian Libraries


Discover Oxford's History of Science Museum: from Einstein & elements to works of art & wonderdrugs

Discover the Museum of Natural History


Discover Oxford Botanic Garden & Arboretum

Explore the Pitt Rivers Museum