elephant skeletons Oxford

Meeting the dinosaurs at Natural History Museum Oxford

We’re a bit odd in our house because most people do family things at weekends.  Because the OH farms 7 days a week, we never do family days out (unless we’ve got family friends having parties or meals out), so N and I tend to get out and about on our own.  I do have a friend in a similar situation with a workaholic farmer husband, so sometimes we meet up and take our sons out together.   With the boys being with 6 months in age of each other, they enjoy catching up and getting up to mischief, and it gives us mums chance to catch up and compare notes.

Our latest trip was to the recently reopened Natural History Museum in Oxford.  The boys were really excited to be seeing dinosaurs, although it was to be N’s first trip to a museum so I was a little unsure how he’d like it.  We also weren’t sure whether they were expecting live dinosaurs rather than skeletons but they didn’t seem disappointed.

at the oxford museum

Straight through the door and they headed immediately for the biggest dinosaurs.

natural history museum dinosaurs

I was pretty relieved they weren’t scared, as N’s never really been that fussed about dinosaur stories.  But all was good, and we struggled to stop them from touching bits they shouldn’t.

hedgehog natural history museum

It was surprising to see some bones found locally near us – only around 7 miles away, which I wasn’t expecting at all.

We tried to encourage them to look at the other exhibits, but while the crocodile was interesting as was the British modern wildlife (hmm, both farmer’s sons, not sure their fathers would appreciate their interest in foxes!), the side display units just weren’t as interesting as the bones.

I loved looking at the minerals and stones…my previous gemstone jewellery making hobby made it really interesting to see the stones in raw rock form.


A fleeting visit up to the second floor saw the boys mostly running around the quad against our orders.  Luckily, the museum is really geared towards children and families, and with the place being full of children (none of the others were running around mind you!), it wasn’t really out of place.

While the boys were a bit young, the Natural History Museum has a children’s activity area where you can get hold of colouring things and activity sheets to take around the museum as you go.  The facilities are good for babies and there’s a cafe.  It’s definitely not a museum where it’s quiet and full of curators keeping you away from the exhibits.  There are some items where you’re encouraged to touch, and other more fragile pieces you obviously can’t.  So lots for children to experience.

We’d been hoping to have a picnic on the lawn outside, but it was raining so we had to wander into Oxford and have a cafe lunch.  No great hardship, although did mean having to lug round a full heavy rucksack for longer than anticipated.

tour guide umbrella
Looking like a tour guide

The other exciting thing about going to Oxford is the chance to ride on the park and ride bus.  We even got to sit at the front on the top floor of the bus which has to be the best seat.  Of course there has to be a bad point to a day and that was N refusing to let go of the bag of Ben’s Cookies we were taking home, so he could hold my hand walking down the bus stairs…and falling down a few of them.  Cue a lot of tears, a bruised back and me thinking I should have gone down in front of him.

It was a lovely day though, the boys had a great time, and I’ll be looking forward to taking to more museums that might be suitable (and free!).

What museums did you start your children on?  Any you can recommend?

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    1. He’s pretty brave, so a bit of a cuddle, then the tears were gone by the time we’d got off the bus. Hopefully it won’t put him off going on the bus in future.

  1. We need to revisit this, haven’t been for a few years. Are there still minibeasts upstairs? If so, some of my Dad’s insects might be on display – another reason we need to go. We took Monkey and some friends to the Ashmolean earlier in the year. Although we also had the ‘don’t touch’ issue to some extent, the kids loved it. There are ‘find this’ sheets and we thought it was very child friendly, lifts for buggies too.

    1. There were definitely more items of the ‘bug-gy’ kind upstairs. How come they’ve got your dad’s insects?

      I like the Ashmolean, but am surprised there’s enough for children there. Last time I went (before it was refurbed), it was a lot of crockery!

    1. Ooh London is a dream for museums. Just so many to choose from. Can’t wait until N’s a bit older so I can take him for trips

  2. Oh, sounds like a wonderful experience for the boys and they seem to be at an age when they can appreciate such a visit! #BlogClub

    1. Just about old enough. And it was a short enough visit for them not to get bored without needing to find specific activities for them.

    1. I lived in Oxford for 3 years and nearby for years, and I don’t think I’ve ever made it to the Oxford Story disgracefully. It’s a great place for museums

  3. I keep hearing good things about the museums in Oxford – this looks brilliant. I’m sure D would love it!

    1. It’s good because it’s not too big, there’s lots of display cases to hide behind, and as it’s free there’s no pressure if you don’t stay long.

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