The Oxford University Museum of Natural History reopened on Saturday after 14 months of complex renovation.
The occasion was marked with a ‘Dawn ’til Dusk’ event that saw the museum open its doors at seven a.m. and welcome over 5,000 guests over the course of the day.
The day’s program of events included live bands, bug handling, and a talk from museum director Professor Paul Smith.
Smith told the Oxford Student: “This has been a long, dark year with the museum closed to visitors…it will be very nice to see the doors opened again today and to have the sound of visitors filling the space once more.”
Renovation was undertaken on the Grade I listed building to fix water leakages in the glass-tiled roof, which were causing damage to some of the museum’s specimens.
Conservator Bethany Palumbo claimed she was “shocked” the first time she realised the harm caused to exhibits: “We found watermarks on the whales which was crazy. We also had a collection of buckets for emergencies,” she said. Other specimens were becoming faded due to exposure from UV light.
The restoration project, which is believed to have cost in the region of £2 million, involved more than 8,500 glass tiles being individually removed, cleaned and resealed. Where tiles required replacement, specialist heritage architects were involved to ensure they matched the style of the Victorian originals.
The closure also facilitated extensive conservation work on some of the museum’s specimens. The collection of whale skeletons were cleaned for the first time in 100 years.
The museum houses the University’s scientific collections of zoological and geological specimens. Amongst its most famous exhibits are a number of dinosaur skeletons discovered in the local area, and the world’s only Dodo specimen complete with intact skin.
Natural History back for good