Oxford University’s museums and Bodleian Library to reopen to the public

Museum of Natural History inside

Museum of Natural History, Oxford

Oxford University’s museums are reopening to the public this week as Oxfordshire moves into Tier 2 lockdown restrictions. The Ashmolean Museum, Pitt Rivers Museum, History of Science Museum, and the Museum of Natural History, which have been closed since 2 November, are now able to reopen to the public from 2 December. 

The Ashmolean Museum will reopen on Wednesday 2 December, the History of Science Museum reopens on Thursday 3 December and the Museum of Natural History and Pitt Rivers Museum reopens on Saturday 5 December.

The Weston Library, which was also temporarily closed over November, will now reopen on 2 December as will the Bodleian Library where visitors can enjoy a socially-distanced tour of the library.  

Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum has remained open this month and proved to be a popular space for local residents to enjoy the outdoors. Now many of the Glasshouses at the Garden will be open from Wednesday 2 December, including the Conservatory where visitors can find this year’s woodland themed botanical Christmas display.

From this week visitors will be able to enjoy a range of free exhibitions on display:

  • Precious and Rare: Islamic Metalwork from The Courtauld at the History of Science Museum provides a modern day interpretation on Islamic metalwork spanning the 11th to 16th centuries, and features rare and intricate objects.
  • Helen Muspratt Photographer at the Weston Library explores an extraordinary body of work in many different styles and genres from experimental photography using techniques such as solarisation, to social documentary and studio portraiture.
  • Truth to Nature explores the 160-year history of the Museum of Natural History and its incredible building.
  • The Ashmolean Museum will feature a range of displays: looking at how technology uncovered the history of Roman gold coins; on 18th and 19th century Greek embroideries; and on the work of renowned modern ceramicist Hans Coper. A new exhibition entitled ‘Owning the Past: the Making of Iraq’ opens on 12 December.

Oxford Botanic Garden’s annual Christmas Fair will, this year, be available as a Virtual Christmas Fair. Visitors can browse a marvellous online marketplace bursting with festive gifts and gorgeous botanically-inspired merchandise not found on the High Street. Open from 30 November to 13 December 2020.

To allow for social distancing and prevent over-crowding, entry to all of Oxford University’s Gardens, Libraries and Museums is by pre-booked timed slots only, which can only be reserved online in advance. Indoor spaces include one-way routes and visitors are required to wear face-coverings during their visit. 

Entrance is free for all sites with the exception of the Botanic Garden and Arboretum, which is ticketed but is free to University staff, students and Annual Pass holders.

Members of the public who are unable to visit can still explore exhibitions and resources.  They can enjoy collections-based activities like Slow Art at the Ashmolean Museum, activities to create your own symmetric pattern inspired by an exhibition at the History of Science Museum or learn how to identify fungi with the Botanic Garden and Arboretum. Or learn about the history of our spaces like in the Museum of Natural History’s Temple of Science podcast.  Find out more about GLAM’s online activities and resources for visitors.

Find out more about our Opening Times