Accessibility

This webpage contains information about Museum accessibility. We welcome questions and feedback from anyone who has visited, or is planning to visit, the Museum. For further information please:

Our email and phone line are monitored 10:00-17:00 Monday-Sunday by our knowledgeable Visitor Services team. 

If you need assistance in the Museum, please do not hesitate to approach a member of staff, as they will be very happy to help. We look forward to your visit!

 

GETTING HERE

Expand All

Notice

The Museum's blue badge parking spaces will be unavailable on 9th December between 10:00-11:30. We apologise for any inconvenience caused. Please read below for information about alternative blue badge parking near the Museum.

 

We have two on-site designated parking spaces for blue badge holders available on a first-come first-served basis. The parking spaces are reached from Parks Road and are on the right-hand side of the building (viewed from Parks Road). The signs indicating the accessible spaces may be hard for some people to see as they are inlaid into the floor.

There are some standard pay and display parking spaces on nearby Museum Road approximately 120m from the accessible entrance, which are short-stay only.

There are two public Blue Badge parking spaces on Keble Road which are approximately 400m from the accessible entrance.

Information about accessible parking near the Museum can be found here.

The Museum maintains a smooth, step-free path and accessible entrance into the Museum, but ongoing construction work means we are experiencing regular changes to the layout of this route. For up-to-date information about access routes, please contact our Visitor Services team by emailing foh@ox.ac.uk or phoning 01865 272950.

External view of the Museum from Parks Road October 2023

Accessible Entrance

The accessible entrance of the Museum can be found on the right-hand side of the building when viewed from Parks Road. The accessible entrance allows you step free entrance.

To use the accessible entrance, walk down the path on the right hand side of the building, until you reach the arches. Walk under the arches and the accessible door will be on your left.

The accessible door is automated and activated with a push button during museum opening hours. There is also an intercom with a height of 125cm. The door has a clear width of 99cm. The door opens away from you (push).

Once you enter the Museum, you will be on the Lower Ground Floor. A short corridor will lead you to a lift providing access to all floors of the building.

The outside of the Museum, as seen from Parks Road. There is a lawn between the road and the front of the Museum, which currently has barriers around it.

To use the accessible entrance, head down the pathway on the right hand side of the Museum (viewed from Parks Road)

The pathway leading to the accessible entrance is on the right hand side of the lawn

Continue down the pathway until you reach some arches

 
A courtyard with two stone arches, through which is the accessible entrance to the Museum

Walk under the arches and turn left

The wooden door to the accessible entrance which can be opened with a push button on the left hand side.

The accessible doorway

 

Main Entrance

The main entrance/exit to the Museum is in the centre of the building when viewed from the front. It includes an external set of large wooden double doors, a porch, and an internsal set of wooden doors.

There is an intercom at a height of 126cm on the exterior wall of the Museum.

The external doors are held open in very warm weather. In cooler weather, the large doors are closed except for a smaller single-width doorway which remains open. The single-width doorway has a small raised threshold.

Once inside the large double doors, you’ll find yourself in a porch. Straight ahead there are eight steps leading up to the internal wooden doors. Due to the age of the building, the stairs are worn in places; there are no contrasting markings on the step edge. There is a central handrail.

The internal wooden doors are heavy and Museum staff will be happy to assist if required. To get help from staff, please use the intercom when entering the building, or ask at the Welcome Desk when leaving.

The Main entrance of the Museum, a large set of wooden doors with nature stone carvings around them

Main Entrance of the Museum

The set of stairs inside the porch with a handrail in the middle, leading up to an open door

The porch inside the Main Entrance of the Museum

 

The Museum is open from 10:00-17:00 Monday-Sunday. Entry to the Museum is free and booking is not required unless you are visiting with a group. You are free to come and go as you please during opening hours.

GETTING AROUND THE MUSEUM

Expand All

Bringing a mobility aid

Visitors are welcome to bring their buggies, prams, or mobility scooters, but please note that we are unable to store them on your behalf. Visitors must keep their buggies with them at all times whilst inside the Museum.

 

Borrowing a wheelchair

The Museum has two manual wheelchairs available for use by Museum visitors, please ask a member of staff if you would like to borrow one. We do not have a booking system for these wheelchairs, but if you would like to check their availability during your visit, please do not hesitate to contact us by phone (01865 272950) or email (foh@oum.ox.ac.uk).

 

Borrowing a stool

The Museum has lightweight foldable stools available to borrow from a rack on the Ground Floor of the Museum. You can find them near the North staircase, around the corner from the DNA model. View access map.

A rack of stools available to borrow, around the corner from the DNA model
A close-up of the rack of stools, which are black and foldable

 

The floor of the Museum is predominantly tiled. There is some carpet in the centre aisle of the Main Court and there are wooden floors in the Ellen Hope Gallery (the First Floor entry/exit to the lift). 

Please note that the Museum is an historic building, meaning that floors and staircases can be uneven in places. This particularly applies to the south staircase (see access map).

Passenger Lift

There is a passenger lift that connects the Lower Ground, Ground, and First Floors. The lift is located very close to the accessible entrance and wheelchair-accessible toilet.

The lift entrance is 80cm wide. The lift will accommodate wheelchairs although it is not large enough for wheelchairs to turn within it. All lift buttons are at an accessible height for wheelchair users. The lift has tactile buttons, audio and visual information, and a hearing loop. There is a handrail on one side of the lift.

A short corridor with an arrow pointing into a corridor toward the right

The passage to the passenger lift, as seen from the accessible entrance on the Lower Ground Floor

The entrance to the lift which has metal doors and a button panel on the right hand side

The entrance to the lift on the Lower Ground Floor

The entrance to the lift on the Ground Floor, marked with a white arrow

The entrance to the lift on the Ground Floor can be found next to the shop

The door of the lift as seen from the Ground Floor

Ground Floor view of the lift doors

The Ellen Hope Gallery, as seen from the lift. It is a room with blue walls and displays about insects.

The Lift exits the First Floor in the Ellen Hope Gallery

The interior of the lift with metal walls and a lino floor

The interior of the passenger lift

The buttons in the lift which are, in descending order, First Floor, a blank button, Ground Floor, Lower Ground Floor, & a horizontal row of three buttons at the bottom: alarm button on the left, a close button in the middle, and an open button on right

Lift button panel

 

 

Stair Lift

There is also a small inclined wheelchair stair lift at the North end of the Museum. Please ask staff for assistance if you would like to use this. The lift platform is 100cm long and 77cm wide. It has a maximum weight capacity of 225kg. The stair lift connects the Ground Floor with the north Lower Ground Floor where you will find baby change facilities, a toilet suitable for ambulant disabled people, as well as standard male and female toilets. However, we recommend using the accessible toilet facilities at the south side of the building, which are accessible via passenger lift and are more spacious.

The stair lift is on the right hand side of the North staircase when viewed from above

 

 

Chairs with backs and armrests can be found throughout the Main Court on the Museum's Ground Floor.

A blue chair in front of a pillar in the Main Court
A rack of stools available to borrow, around the corner from the DNA model

There are also built-in benches in the corridors on the Ground Floor and First Floor.

The Museum also has lightweight foldable stools available to borrow.

Please ask a member of staff if you need help finding a seat.

You are welcome to bring your pushchair into the Museum, as our wide aisles (built for Victorian ladies in crinolines!) make it easy to get around. If you require lift access, you can enter at the right-hand side (south side) of the Museum and use the lift there. Unfortunately, we are unable to store pushchairs, so please keep them with you during your visit.

Unfortunately, the Museum does not have a cloakroom to store coats or bags, so please keep your belongings with you during your visit.

The Museum welcomes visitors with assistance animals. If you are visiting with an assistance animal, please note the following:

  • We request all assistance animals to be on a lead where possible and expect them to not wander freely throughout the Museum.
  • We politely request that assistance animals wear a harness or jacket whilst in the Museum to help identify them to staff and visitors.
  • If you are planning to make a visit with an assistance animal other than a dog, we would be grateful if you could contact the Museum in advance to let our Visitor Services team know to expect you: foh@oum.ox.ac.uk

Sadly, the Museum can’t accept visits from pets because ‘passenger’ insects that travel in, or live on, animals pose a threat to our taxidermy specimens.

SHOP AND CAFÉ

Expand All

The Museum shop is on the Ground Floor of the Museum. If entering through the Main Entrance, the shop is on your right as you enter through the doors. If you are using the Accessible Entrance, use the lift or stairs to get to the Ground Floor of the Museum -- the shop is on your left.

The shop sells gifts, books, and toys. The shop can sometimes get noisy and crowded during busy periods. Some people with larger wheelchairs may find some of the shop area harder to navigate.

Much of the merchandise is displayed between 62cm and 94cm from the floor. However, some is set back or displayed at a higher level -- staff are happy to help.

The sales counter is 91cm high with a small shelf in front at 76cm high, there is no lower section. The card payment readers are 116cm from the floor. There is no hearing loop at the counter.

The Museum shop as seen from the Welcome Desk, with a counter in front of the camera man and the rest of the shop extending to the left.
The shop counter with the till on the far left, and the card reader next to the till. There are postcards and sweets along the tip of the counter. There is also a lower lip at the front of the counter.

 

The café is on the First Floor of the Museum, visible from the top of both staircases. If you arrive at the First Floor using the lift, please continue through the Ellen Hope Gallery and you will see the café on your right. There is plenty of space to move around the café although it can get crowded and noisy at busy times. The furniture is moveable. It is 76cm from the floor to the underside of the tables, although the central table legs might block access for some wheelchair users. Cold drinks and snacks are in a self-service fridge, with some shelves that can only be reached from a standing height. Hot food, hot drinks, and cakes are served by staff behind a counter. The counter is 90cm high and does not have a lower section. Staff are happy to come and help if needed.

A view of the cafe where visitors are eating and drinking and someone is paying for food at the till
The drink self-service fridge in the cafe with four shelves

 

ACCESSING EXHIBITS AND DISPLAYS

Expand All

All displays with audiovisual content have captions.

The Museum's audioguides are usually available online and come in nine different languages.

Audioguides currently unavailable

Please note that our audioguides are currently unavailable. We are working to restore them as soon as possible and apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

 

The Museum currently has an audiodescribed guide available to listen to on Soundcloud, although some details may be out of date. We thank you for your patience as we work to produce an updated audiodescribed guide.

There is are a number of touchable exhibits on the Ground Floor of the Museum, including a ‘Touch Table’ in the Main Court, in front of the skeleton parade. The Table has touchable specimens, Braille text, and raised imagery. Other touchable specimens in the Museum include animals and rocks – for more information, please ask at the Enquiries Desk.

TOILETS

There are toilets on the Lower Ground Floor at the front of the Museum on both sides (north and south). These include standard male and female toilets and accessible toilets. We recommend using the toilets at the south end of the building because they are more spacious, and include baby change facilities. The building also has gender-neutral toilets; please see below for more information or view the access map.

Expand All

South Accessible Toilet

There is a large, accessible toilet on the Lower Ground Floor located near the accessible entrance of the building (South end). Some people might find the lock a bit fiddly to use. The toilet is left-hand transfer.

A view of the South accessible toilet. When seated on the toilet there is an emergency pull cable on the left. The sink is on the left.
A map of the Museum with the south toilets labelled

 

North Accessible Toilet

There is another toilet suitable for people with ambulant disabilities on Lower Ground Floor at the North of the building. From inside the building, this can only be accessed via stairs or the stair lift. The toilet is right-hand transfer.

The North accessible toilet. The toilet is right hand transfer with toilet paper on the right, and a sink on the right wall just in front of the toilet
An access map of the Museum with the north toilets labelled on the Lower Ground floor

 

Annexe Accessible Toilet

There is a wheelchair accessible toilet in the Museum annexe. The annexe is not generally open to the public but is used by school groups, workshops, and similar.

The Museum of Natural History has a gender-neutral toilet that is also suitable for people with ambulant disabilities. This can be found on the Lower Ground Floor at the North end of the building.

There is also a gender-neutral toilet in the adjoining Pitt Rivers Museum. Please ask a member of staff if you would like help finding this. 

An access map of the Museum with the north toilets labelled on the Lower Ground floor

 

SENSORY ENVIRONMENT

Expand All

The Museum is at its busiest during the weekends and school holidays. During these periods, noise levels can be high and crowds can form. If you would like to visit the Museum when it is less busy, we recommend visiting on Tuesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays from 10:00-11:00 or 15:00-17:00. The Museum operates with a decreased capacity during our Autism-Friendly Openings. To find out more about our upcoming Autism-Friendly Openings, please look at the access events calendar below.

The Museum is a large, open-plan space meaning it can be noisy when busy. If you would like to visit when the Museum is likely to be less busy, we would recommend visiting on Tuesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays from 10:00-11:00 or 15:00-17:00.

The Museum operates with a decreased capacity during our Autism-Friendly Openings. To find out more about our upcoming Autism-Friendly Openings, please look at the access events calendar below.

The Museum does not have many displays that produce loud or sudden noises. Please note that the hand-driers in the toilets on the Lower Ground Floor can be noisy.

The Museum does not have any scented exhibits, although there can be a noticeable smell of chemical preservatives on the First Floor near the North stairs/Ellen Hope Gallery.

The Museum is a large, open-plan space, meaning that food smells from the café can sometimes travel throughout the Museum.

The Museum is proud to be registered as an Oxford Warm Space, meaning it is a free, heated venue in which to spend time during the winter months. Due to the building’s glass roof, the building can get very hot in summer. During warm weather, the Main Court can get very hot, whilst the outer corridors of the Ground Floor remain cooler.

The Main Court of the Museum has a glass roof, meaning that lighting levels can be variable.

There are consistent levels of artificial lighting in the corridors surrounding the Main Court on the Ground Floor of the Museum, and on the First Floor, which are both well-lit.

ACCESS RESOURCES AND MAP

Expand All

Oxford University Museum of Natural History is proud of its family-friendly status, but recognises that visiting with children on the autistic spectrum can still be challenging. We hope that this visual guide, which shows recent changes to the Museum because of COVID 19, will help prepare you for your visit. Please download the Visual Guide PDF and open with Adobe PDF reader or Acrobat for best results.

View our Visual Story to help prepare for your visit. This step-by-step guide has lots of images and is designed to help those with autism or sensory sensitivities prepare for their visit.

View Visual Story

The Easy Read Guide provides clear information to help you with your visit to the Museum

Download the Easy Read Guide

There are induction loops in the Westwood Room and Lecture Theatre of the Museum.

The Museum is pleased to offer Sunflower Lanyards for any visitors who have a hidden disability such as autism, chronic pain, dementia, anxiety, a visual or hearing impairment. These discreet lanyards signify to staff that the individual(s) might need additional support, guidance, or more time around the Museum. These Sunflower Lanyards can be borrowed from the entrance Welcome Desk then returned upon leaving the Museum.

We have a SEND pack available for visitors with equipment and sensory items to help distract and calm. It includes dinosaur toys, bags of small minerals, a plush dodo, squishy turtles, jangly bones, ear defenders, and a push and pop sensory fidget square. The pack is available for free from the Welcome Desk. Please ask one of our friendly staff when you arrive if you would like to borrow it for your visit.

The Museum currently has an audiodescribed guide available to listen to on Soundcloud, although some details may be out of date. We thank you for your patience as we work to produce an updated audiodescribed guide.

 

Members of our Visitor Services Team wear blue lanyards and earpieces. In colder weather, they tend to wear a navy blue fleece with a Museum logo. In warmer weather, they may be wearing a lighter blue polo shirt with the Museum logo.

A Visitor Services Assistant wearing a light blue polo shirt with an embroidered logo
A member of Museum staff wearing a navy blue fleece with a white museum logo

 

A member of the Visitor Services Team can always be found at the Welcome Desk and usually at the Enquiries Desk.

ACCESS EVENTS

Workshops for Adults with Learning Disabilities

Oxford University Gardens, Libraries and Museums have relaunched 'Workshops for Adults with Learning Disabilities'. These sessions are free and usually last for 1.5-2 hours. Check our What's On page for details about upcoming workshops at the Museum of Natural History, or find out more about Workshops across the Oxford University Gardens, Libraries and Museums.

entomology insects

Touch Tours for the Blind

Oxford University Gardens, Libraries and Museums offer Touch Tours for the Blind and Partially Sighted on the 2nd Thursday of every month. For information about Touch Tours at the Museum of Natural History, please telephone 01865 282 456, or email outreach@oum.ox.ac.uk.

 

Assistance Dogs in the Museum