A quick guide to the different areas of the Museum: where they are and what's on display.
The Main Court of the Museum will be transformed in 2020, with the large showcases replaced and beautiful new displays installed. During this time some displays will move or be removed, with some areas of the court temporarily inaccessible. Museum opening hours will remain as normal, daily from 10am to 5pm. Please visit https://oumnh.web.ox.ac.uk/life-as-we-know-it for more information on the project.
Starting your visit
The central court offers a great snapshot of what’s in the Museum.
You'll be struck by the sight of the Iguanodon and T. rex skeletons towering over you, surrounded by displays including the Oxford Dodo, insects, minerals, and the first dinosaur to be scientifically described – Oxfordshire’s Megalosaurus.
Fish, reptiles, birds, mammals and more – take a journey through the many evolutionary adaptations of animals. Then discover how all living things are connected in a branching tree of life in our Deep Tree interactive display.
Look up to see the striking whale skeletons suspended from the ceiling, then visit the first floor to see the British bird displays.
Rocks and minerals
Find out how rocks and minerals are formed beneath and on the Earth’s surface, and discover minerals extracted from mines and quarries across the globe.
Don’t miss the chance to put your hands on our touchable rocks and minerals, including the 4.5-billion-year-old Nantan meteorite – one of the oldest objects in the Museum.
Our palaeontology collection contains an impressive selection of fossils from around the world.
It also includes many specimens from Oxfordshire. The area is a rich source of marine fossils from Middle to Late Jurassic. Several dinosaurs have also been found here: theropods Megalosaurus and Eustreptospondylus, sauropod Cetiosaurus and ornithopod Camptosaurus (also known as Cumnoria).
History of Life on Earth
The History of Life on Earth display presents a journey from the very first microscopic organisms to the incredible variety of living forms that have evolved throughout the planet's 4.5-billion-year history.
These tactile displays illustrate how mammals and reptiles have evolved and adapted to populate water, air and land environments.
The two Sensing Evolution tables feature over 20 touchable specimens, from animal skulls to shells, fossils to snakeskin.
Insects and spiders
There are thought to be as many as eight million species of insects on Earth, of which only around one million are known. So far, around 47,500 species of spiders have been scientifically described.
Find out how scientists classify insects, and learn about their diversity and ecological importance. Meet our live creatures, including the Brazilian salmon pink bird-eating spider and the Madagascar hissing cockroaches.
Art and architecture
The Museum building is a striking example of Victorian neo-Gothic architecture. Each of the columns surrounding the court is constructed from a different British decorative rock, while the capitals and corbels are carved into life-like representations of plants.
The Museum is also home to one of the most important collections of Victorian sculpture in Britain, many created by Pre-Raphaelite artists.
A changing series of exhibitions runs throughout the year. Find out about our current and past exhibitions, as well as smaller temporary displays.