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Oxford is renowned not only for its universities, but also for the museums, art galleries and other public buildings that are full of collections that inspire and enhance learning. Any day of the year it is possible to visit a museum in Oxford and gain access to spectacular items from the past and present.

Below is a list of museums in Oxford that are open to the public. The majority combine permanent collections with temporary exhibitions and specific events to engage all ages in an understanding of specific items and subject areas.

Pitt Rivers

One of the most visited museums in Oxford; Pitt Rivers is a celebration of international cultures, with a wide array of artefacts from around the globe. In addition to the items on display in the cabinets, there are many drawers which can be pulled out to reveal yet more treasures.


Another popular museum, the Ashmolean has a broad an extensive collection of items including an Egyptian exhibition and a wonderful collection of musical instruments and paintings featuring musical instruments. A lesser known museum, the Bate Collection shows the history and development of musical instruments from medieval to modern times.

For instruments of a different kind, there are plenty of medical and scientific instruments on display at the Museum of the History of Science. Some will leave you grateful for the advances that have been made in modern times!

Oxford University Press

This publishing house has set up a museum which displays a good collection of printing equipment to show the process for printing books prior to the invention of modern methods. There are also displays of historic books and documents. If you enjoy books, you will also want to visit the Bodleian Library. This was initially a personal collection of 2,000 books, but now contains over 9 million titles, so it is possible to find thoughts and findings on almost any subject within this library.

University Museum of Natural History

Always popular with families, this museum contains wonderful zoological collections, as well as dinosaurs, fossils, geological rocks and minerals. There are regular workshops and activities to engage children and adults in the delights of the natural world.

Modern Art Oxford

This museum exhibits modern and contemporary art collections that celebrate a wide variety of styles and materials. There are changing exhibitions which make it worth revisiting the museum on many occasions. Art enthusiasts may also enjoy visiting the Christ Church Picture Gallery which houses an important collection of Old Master paintings and drawings.

The Issue with Collections

Whilst collections of any kind can provide interest, understanding and encourage enthusiasm for a particular subject, the issue is often storage. Whether you are a museum curator or a private collector, storing items is often restricted to the amount of available space.

Items need to be carefully stored to prevent damage, but need to be well organised so that items can be easily found when they are needed for exhibitions or displays. They need to be stored in a secure location, where they are not at risk from damp or other harmful conditions.

Self storage units could provide the ideal solution. A clean, dry and secure unit of any size can be hired for any duration of time. You can add storage boxes, shelves and other equipment to make it easy to organise the collection and the unit can be accessed by you at any time of day or night. If you would like more information on self storage, Oxford based Barretts is happy to assist.