Oxford University Museum of Natural History undertakes a wide range of activity to connect audiences with the research undertaken across the University of Oxford, and in collaboration with public engagement specialists across the institution. This activity spansall modes of public engagement, from informing and inspiring visitors through to consulting and collaborating on future research, exhibition content, and citizen science.
Researchers from across the University worked with the Museum on our exhibition 'Bacterial World'. Incorporating more than 55 exhibits – spanning monumental art, geological and deep-sea specimens, film, and digital interactive displays – Bacterial World demonstrated how these tiny organisms wield huge influence over us, shaping the past, present and future of life on our planet.
In this video you can hear from some of the lead academics on the project on the benefits of working with us.
Our own Museum researchers worked on our exhibition ‘First Animals’, which explores the strands of evidence for Earth’s mysterious early animals. In this video you can hear from some of the lead researchers on the project about their work in the context of the exhibition.
One of the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis is that our programme of talks related to the exhibition had to move online, which has helped to develop a truly international audience for our research. Many of the talks and other content from the exhibition can be enjoyed in our First Animals playlist.
Adults and young people
Contemporary Science and Society Exhibitions
This series of exhibitions explore current science advances and policy issues associated with them, linking contemporary research with the Museum’s audiences. Each exhibition takes an inter-disciplinary approach to a science theme, and mixes the research with contemporary art, digital interactives and a rich array of events programming.
The Museum opens its doors to hundreds of people for an evening extravaganza of performances, workshops, demonstrations, and games. These large scale biannual events are always themed and are a great opportunity for researchers to develop and deliver fun and accessible public engagement activities to communicate their work.
Our talks are given by experts in their field and are aimed at interested visitors that may not have a background in the topic but are keen to know more. Talk topics are varied and often linked to the theme of the Contemporary Science and Society exhibition.
The Great Debate
The famous Great Debate of 1860 has inspired the Museum to reignite active discussion around current research. A panel of experts debate hot topics and respond to an audience vote. Recent events have looked at ‘Smart Drugs: is it cheating?’ and ‘Knowing your genome – would you open Pandora’s Box?’
Close Up On Research display
These small exhibitions bring together world-class research from Oxford University researchers with specimens from the collection, scientific visualisations and clear explanations to show how and why our scientists are contributing to understanding the natural world.
Our day schools give researchers the chance to communicate with people who already have an interest in the subject. These short courses can involve one researcher or the whole group and can include practical sessions as well as seminars and discussions.
STEM summer placements
STEM summer placements provide an opportunity for young people studying science at school to carry out their own research project in the Museum. University and Museum researchers pose questions that form the basis of these practical specimen-based projects.
The Museum Youth Forum meets once a month to take part in a varied programme of activities. The group are always keen to hear more about the science research that takes place in the Museum and wider University.
Natural History Investigators
Investigators are aged between 14 and 16 and visit the Museum on Saturdays to carry out their own specimen based research project. Researchers are welcome to meet the group to talk about their own research and give advice.
Operation Earth is a two-year-long national programme that will engage, inspire and involve school-age children and their families with environmental science research. University researchers run hands-on activities and perform in the special live science show. It is a national project funded by NERC & ASDC.
Super Science Saturday
Super Science Saturdays are twice-yearly science fairs that make current research accessible to family audiences. A range of stalls and activities aim to make science accessible, engaging, hands-on and fun, with up to 100 researchers presenting their research at each event.
Taking place on Saturdays during Oxford University term time, ‘Science Saturdays’ hands-on activities introduce family visitors to some of the ideas, concepts, and processes that scientists use when working with the Museum’s collections. The activities are run by researchers and other scientists.
Study days are special programmes of talks and activities for large groups of secondary school students. Themes vary throughout the year, based on research within the Museum and wider University, and are often linked to special exhibitions.
Question of Taste DNA workshop
The Question of Taste DNA workshop is a practical session for A level biologists led by education specialists and facilitated by early career researchers. Researchers share their practical expertise and experiences of science beyond formal education.