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Museum of Oxford
Museum of Oxford

In the heart of this academic haven lies a world of creativity and culture, a treasure trove of festivals and exhibitions that promises inspiration throughout the year. Oxford, famed for its prestigious university, boasts a myriad of museums and galleries, each steeped in history and pulsating with contemporary allure.

1. Ashmolean Museum: Where History Meets Modernity

At the heart of Oxford's cultural tapestry stands the Ashmolean Museum. Named after the 17th-century collector Elias Ashmole, this institution first opened its doors in 1863, making it the world's oldest public museum. Its exterior, with its iconic columns, is unmistakable, but step inside to find a transformed contemporary gallery space. From Egyptian mummies to pre-Raphaelite paintings and contemporary art, its diverse collections traverse the ages. Explore objects dating back to 8000 BC, gaze upon works by masters like Pissarro, Manet, Van Gogh, and Michelangelo, and immerse yourself in a world of ceramics from across the globe. After your journey through history, savor refreshments in the informal basement cafe or the glamorous rooftop restaurant, all while overlooking the city.

2. Pitt Rivers Museum: A Curious Collection of Wonders

For lovers of the peculiar, the Pitt Rivers Museum awaits. Its collection is a treasure trove of curiosities, including a magnificent Tahitian mourner's costume from Captain Cook's voyages. Here, you'll discover masks from Africa, Melanesia, and North America, magic amulets, jewelry, tools, weapons, and musical instruments. General Pitt Rivers' collection, donated to the University in 1884, has since grown to over half a million objects, a testament to the earliest anthropologists and explorers.

3. Museum of Natural History: Where Dinosaurs Roam

Physically towering over the Pitt Rivers on Parks Road is the Museum of Natural History. Within its neo-Gothic walls lie geological and zoological specimens that beckon explorers. Marvel at dinosaur skeletons, the Oxford Dodo, and The Red Lady of Paviland—the UK's oldest human burial.

4. Architectural Wonders: Oxford's Timeless Beauty

Oxford's most remarkable feature, often hidden behind college walls, is its awe-inspiring architecture. Unearth these architectural gems through themed walking tours. Stroll the cobbled streets, each with evocative names like Dead Man's Walk, Turn Again Lane, and Magpie Lane. Behold the Bridge of Sighs, believed to have earned its name from the sighs of anxious students of yore.

5. University Church, St Mary the Virgin: A Serene Oasis

Adjacent to Radcliffe Square, the University Church offers a tranquil respite. Enjoy a drink or a meal at its Vaults and Garden Café, basking in the shadow of Radcliffe Camera.

6. Bodleian Library: A Literary Gem

Explore the Bodleian Library, home to over 12 million printed items, including rare books and manuscripts. The tradition of not lending books to readers, maintained since King Charles I was denied a book in 1645, continues. Guided tours encompass the Weston Library building and the original Library. Marvel at the 15th-century Divinity School, medieval Duke Humfrey's Library, and the iconic Radcliffe Camera.

7. Museum of the History of Science: Journey Through Time

Broad Street is home to the Museum of the History of Science, a treasure trove of scientific instruments from bygone eras.

8. The Story Museum: An Enchanted Realm

At The Story Museum on Pembroke Street, embark on a three-story adventure of interactive displays, live storybook readings, and a celebration of children's literature. Don't forget to explore the shop and linger in the cafe.

9. Oxford Castle and Prison: Unveiling Darker Chapters

Peel back the layers of Oxford's history at Oxford Castle and Prison. Guided tours recount the castle's grim role as a prison from the 18th century to the mid-1990s, providing access to St George's Tower and the haunting castle mound.

Oxfordshire's culture is not confined to history; it thrives in a vibrant visual and performance arts scene. From theatres like the Oxford Playhouse and Burton Taylor Studio to the New Theatre and Old Fire Station, the city pulses with creativity. Pegasus Theatre in Magdalen Road focuses on young audiences, while Summertown's North Wall in South Parade is another artistic haven.

In Oxford, culture and creativity converge in a symphony of artistic endeavors, making each visit a celebration of human expression and innovation.

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