City’s Museum re-opens following £2.8m refurbishment

Published: Tuesday, 14th September 2021

The Museum of Oxford is getting ready to welcome visitors as it prepares to re-open following a £2.8 million refurbishment.

The only museum dedicated to telling the history of the city and its people will re-open on Monday 11 October with new displays of objects, images, oral histories and interactive exhibits.

The redevelopment, which has tripled the size of the museum space, includes a new shop and reception desk, forming a much- improved welcome area and improved facilities for the museum’s 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 infamous Cutteslowe Wall and its rich heritage through times of conflict and industry. Through collection items, video, audio and interactive displays, the exhibitions uncover what makes Oxford such a special place to live, work and study.

Community hub

The new museum galleries and spaces will be a hub for the community to learn about and engage with their local history. It includes new spaces for school learning, larger gallery spaces for more collection items, interactive displays, community exhibitions and opportunities, family activities and reminiscence workshops.

During the museum’s closure, alongside the £2.8 million capital project, staff have been hosting important projects made with and by members of the community. Extracts of these will form the highlights of an opening exhibition and includes: 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 and Mixing Matters connecting communities and celebrating culinary heritage.

The Museum of Oxford has received support and funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Oxford City Council and Arts Council England as well as major donors, trusts and foundations, companies and individuals.

“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.”

Councillor Mary Clarkson, Oxford City Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism