The Museum of Oxford is set to reopen today following two years of closure and a £2.8 million refurbishment.
The museum will with new displays of objects, images, oral histories and interactive exhibits.
It is the only museum in Oxford which is dedicated to telling the history of the city and its people.
Mary Clarkson, Oxford City Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism said:
“Amongst such an abundance of museums, the Museum of Oxford is significant in that it is the only one that is exclusively about the people of Oxford.
“The £2.8 million major investment has helped re-imagine the museum for a new generation and makes it an important cultural focus for our city and communities. I look forward to seeing all sorts of people getting involved by going on family trails, taking part in reminiscence projects, understanding the past in school’s workshops, contributing to and exploring community exhibitions and more.
“It’s a museum for everyone, where everyone can take part.”
The refurbishment has tripled the size of the museum space and includes a new shop, reception desk, welcome area and improved facilities for the museum’s team of more than 100 volunteers.
The ground floor features two new galleries which will show the changing story of Oxford through its history and people, from Romans and Anglo-Saxons to the first Cowley factory workers.
The gallery also features the infamous Cutteslowe Wall and the city’s rich heritage through times of conflict and industry.
Vanessa Lea, museum operations manager at the Museum of Oxford, said: “It is a great introduction to the city for both visitors and residents who may not know all of Oxford’s history.
“The museum covers the centre of the city and all the different estates in Oxford.”
Through the collection of items, video, audio and interactive displays, the exhibitions uncover what makes Oxford a special place to live, work and study.
The museum also includes new spaces for schools learning, larger gallery spaces for more collection items, interactive displays, community exhibitions and opportunities, family activities and reminiscence workshops.
Katy Hammond, museum project assistant at the Museum of Oxford, said: “We want this to be the heritage hub for the city.”
She added that residents will ‘feel a connection to the museum and to the city’ as it ‘reflects the make-up of all residents’.
The Museum of Oxford was opened in 1975 in what was the old City Library in the Town Hall.
It was initially established by the Oxfordshire County Museum Service before being taken over by Oxford City Council in the 1990s.
The museum was nearly closed in the early 2000s but members of the Oxford Civic Society pledged to save it.
A renovation project in the early 2010s created an event venue on the first floor that could host theatre shows, talks and debates. This was accompanied by new outreach projects, family activities and community-curated exhibitions.
The most recent development project started following a successful National Lottery Heritage Fund bid to build a new museum in the old City Library.
Construction work began in 2018 and while the galleries were closed a Micro-Museum was opened in the Town Hall gallery to host temporary exhibitions.
These temporary exhibitions included projects made with and by members of the community.
Extracts of these projects will form the highlights of an opening exhibition, including:
• Windrush Years, looking at the lives of Oxford’s Windrush generation and their descendants
• Healing Spaces about child healthcare in Oxford’s hospitals
• Queering Spires exploring the history of LGBTIQA+ spaces in the city
• Mixing Matters connecting communities and celebrating culinary heritage
The reopened museum will see a programme of activities, events and talks for residents of all ages and backgrounds.
These include a zine making workshop, a family show exploring the science behind magic, the history of Oxford United Football Club with Martin Brodetsky and a sensory tour of the Museum’s galleries.
Leave a Reply