All entries for Tuesday 29 January 2008

January 29, 2008

Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Writing about web page

The Museum of Natural History in Oxford is Lawrence’s favourite place. We visit once a month, so that he can say hello to his many old (as in jurassic, triassic and cretacean) friends.

Housed in a vast Victorian glass-roofed hall, children can wander independently, looking at the hundreds of exhibits. There are cases with displays of land, air and sea animals from across the world, as well as geological and scientific displays.

Lawrence comparing his model sharks to a display of icthyasaurs.

Best of all, of course, are the dinosaurs: both skeletons and life-sized reconstructions.

Lawrence and tricerotops
Lawrence with tricerotops: say RAHHHH!.

Some of the model animals have been created specifically so that children can touch them. The cheetah, pony, fox and badger are particularly attractive.

Lawrence impressing a lady with his zoological expertise.

When we visited a couple of weeks ago, a children’s art event was in progress, with many craft tables in place, at which artists helped the children to create dinosaur masks, puppets and drawings.

Some lesser known highlights:

  • There is an upper-level, containing many more exhibits, including beetles, bugs and butterflies.
  • Half way up the stairs, there is a live (or dormant in the winter) bee colony, housed in a glass case.
  • There is a gruesome skeleton and a model of an angler fish in the fish cases.
  • Just to the left of the reception as you walk in, there are mysterious drawers containing further exhibits that can be examined closely.
  • The Pitt Rivers museum at the back of the hall displays cultural artefacts from around the world, including some lovely shrunken heads.
  • Lewis Carroll drew inspiration from the museum, and there is an exhibit all about him and his creations.
  • The hall is lined with statues of key people from the science of natural history – notice how Darwin and Aristotle seem to be staring intently at each other, what are they thinking?
  • Dyson hand-driers in the toilets. Bizarrely effective.

After spending a couple of hours in the museum, we visited the very good Strada restaurant in Little Clarendon Street. Seafood linguini, lobster risotto, pizza for the adults. Spaghetti and ragu for Lawrence (along with samples of all of the other orders).