Collections and Research
The University of Oxford holds truly exceptional collections, arguably some of the finest in the world, and its Gardens, Libraries and Museums embody the public face of the University.
Discover these unique institutions and just some of their collection highlights (All links open in a new tab).
The Ashmolean is the University of Oxford's museum of art and archaeology, founded in 1683. It is the oldest public museum in the world and has incredibly rich collections from around the globe, ranging from Egyptian mummies and classical sculpture to the Pre-Raphaelites and modern art.
The Bate Collection celebrates the history and development of Western Classical musical instruments. It has the most comprehensive collection in Britain of European woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments. It is also well-known for its clavichords and harpsichords - including one associated with Handel - and for its collection of bows and bow-making equipment.
The combined collections of the Bodleian Libraries group include more than 12 million printed items, 80,000 e-journals, and vast quantities of materials in other formats. Spanning the Sciences, Medicine, Humanities, and Social Science, they also include world famous Special Collections of rare books and manuscripts, maps, music, and numerous special interest collections centred around specific historical events, individuals, or topics of interest.
The University of Oxford Botanic Garden is a reference collection for approximately 5,000 different types of plant, including the national collection of euphorbias. In addition to botanical- and geographical-themed beds, there are lily, palm, and arid glasshouses, herbaceous borders, vegetable beds, a rock garden, and a new orchard.
The University of Oxford Harcourt Arboretum is an integral part of the Botanic Garden's plant collection. In May and June, it is ablaze with azaleas and rhododendrons, and in October, the Japanese maples can brighten even the dullest day. The 130 acre site also includes towering North American conifers, quintessentially English woodland, and a wildflower meadow.
The Museum of the History of Science's collections of astrolabes and sundials are the largest in the world and include instruments once owned by Queen Elizabeth I, Cardinal Wolsey, and Lewis Carrol. Other highlights include the Marconi collection, the Einstein blackboard, and objects relating to the development of penicillin.
The Museum of Natural History's collections include animals collected by Charles Darwin, the only remaining soft tissue of a dodo, a Tsetse fly collected by David Livingstone and fossils of the first scientifically-described dinosaur. The building itself is a fine example of Victorian Neo-Gothic architecture, and, in summer, its tower is home to an extensively-studied colony of swift.
The Pitt Rivers Museum houses one of the world’s greatest collections of ethnography and archaeology with objects from every continent. The collections range from great cultural treasures, such as the Haida crest pole and Polynesian art collected on Captain Cook’s first and second voyages, to more humble everyday objects and objects from Oxfordshire.