While I’ve living in Oxfordshire most of my life, and in Oxford for 3.5 years, I’ve never been to the Ashmolean museum. As children we always visited Pitt Rivers and the National History Museum, but this visit saw us needing to stay nearer St Giles. And that meant a trip to the Ashmolean.
Several people had mentioned it was good for kids, with children’s trails and activities, plus a café meant we could take the hunger pangs off while waiting for our afternoon tea later.
N was keen enough to go – helped by the visit to the café straight away for a drink and the biggest cookie I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately there was no sausage roll which he was really after, and it only seemed to serve sandwiches and cake. I didn’t spot any hot meal menus. But then there’s a restaurant on the top floor, so maybe the café is just for cold food.
We then had an hour spare to look round so we chose the simplest of the children’s trail worksheets and off we headed to the Egyptian displays.
N’s been quite interested in the past about the ‘olden days’, gladiators and I’ve talked to him about some old children’s ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt books I’ve passed on to him that I used to love. So he was having a look around, as we tried to find the hieroglyphs we were looking for. His attention isn’t great, but we did spot most of them together.
I wondered if he’d be a bit spooked out by the mummies on display but he was very matter of fact ‘they’re dead people wrapped up. Do they smell?’ so I was hoping the other children looking at them weren’t put off by that.
Of course the hardest thing in museums is preventing children from touching items. Thankfully his fingers kept mostly to themselves.
N did get a bit bored, but having worksheets helped, and just letting him choose the way to go. He loves big sculptures (this time he didn’t mention that they were naked), but it’s great that many of the rooms have items that we could relate to modern day items, whether crockery, material and clothes or relevant pictures. We had a go at cracking codes and making our own sentences and phrases from hieroglyphs which was harder than I thought.
N also decided he wanted to get creative and draw some pictures…some of which he managed to drop so I wonder who picked them up because they were for once quite recognisable.
The Ashmolean certainly has a wide range of exhibits and over half term also had some family activities – this time it was celebrating Italian festivals so children could create their own masks at set times of the day. We didn’t have time to do so, but it’s great that museums are making themselves accessible to children.
Before we left we did get him a certificate for having completed the trail, he needed to do more drawings to replace the ones he’d lost.
It was just the right length of time to spend at the Ashmolean museum before heading off for our lunch at Boswells. I’m sure we’ll be back in future to explore more of the exhibits.
How do your children like museums? How do you keep them entertained in them?
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