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Research & Impact

The Oxford University Museums are well placed to work with researchers to engage audiences with their activities and achieve impact.

Exhibitions, events, debates and wider public engagement programmes are extremely effective at engaging public audiences with research, while museum academics and specialist staff are skilled in communicating with non-specialist audiences, in evaluating engagement and demonstrating impact, and can work with academic colleagues to develop and share good practice.

We can collaborate on research projects, help develop exhibitions to showcase research, organise events, and give advice on the development of workshops geared towards target audiences, stakeholders and partners, or host events, workshops or receptions in our museum spaces.

If researchers would like to work with the museums, we suggest that they get in touch at the start of their planning process so that costs for any museum based activities can be factored into funding applications. 

To find out more or to make an enquiry please contact | .  Find out more about all the museums: 

Ashmolean Museum Museum of the History of Science

Museum of Natural History | Pitt Rivers Museum 

Case Studies

Objects of Invention – Museum of the History of Science | Department of Engineering, University of Oxford

Funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious programme, 18 students from the Department of Engineering worked with the Museum of the History of Science to devise activities for families and secondary school students which they delivered during National Science and Engineering Week in March 2013. They engaged 2,000 museum visitors and 160 secondary school students in activities ranging from experimenting with gyroscopes and Stirling engines, to steam pumps and mobile medical devices.

Led by Chris Parkin, Lead Education Officer at the Museum, the project looked to both capitalise on the Museum’s remarkable collection of inventive artefacts, and enable young engineers to gain experience of public engagement, bringing their knowledge and enthusiasm to the Museum’s diverse audiences. The students received a series of training sessions on methods of public engagement and object handling, supported by the Joint Museums Volunteer Service.

Read more or visit the museum’s website.

Watch Chris Parkin explain more about the project (September 2014):

Blackfoot Shirts Project – Pitt Rivers Museum | Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford


Funded by the AHRC and Oxford University Fell Fund, the project researched a number of Blackfoot shirts in the collection of the Pitt Rivers. During the project five shirts were loaned to museums in Alberta, Canada, where handling session were carried out with over 500 Blackfoot elders, ceremonialists, artists, teachers and high school students to facilitate engagement and the transmission of cultural knowledge. Several elders also returned to Oxford to share their knowledge of the shirts and their traditions and help create an exhibition at the Pitt Rivers Museum which ran for six months.

Read more or visit the museum’s website.

Latin Inscriptions in the Ashmolean – Ashmolean Museum | Department of Classics and Ancient History, University of Warwick | Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents, University of Oxford

Funded by an AHRC Research grant, this project is currently looking at the hundreds of Latin inscriptions in the Ashmolean’s collections. The project aims to create an online corpus and critical edition of the Museum’s collection of inscriptions for a scholarly readership, and then to use this as a springboard for further online resources and interactive activities, and to incorporate more Latin inscriptions into the Museum’s displays in order to open up this type of first-hand source material to as wide an audience as possible. It will show how Latin inscriptions can illuminate the society, economy and religion of the past, and will explore the ways in which Latin continues to be used in Britain event after the end of ‘Roman Britain’.

Read more or visit the museum’s website.

Contemporary Science Space – Oxford University Museum of Natural History

In 2014 the Museum of Natural History will be investing in a 150m2 contemporary science temporary exhibition space in order to offer a holistic approach to impact and public engagement in science within the museum. Science communicators within the museums will work with researchers to make their work accessible to the public and commercial stakeholders. Exhibitions will run from 3-6 months guaranteeing audiences of around a quarter of a million. Activity in this space will align closely with the museum’s communications channels, including blogs and social media, and with the museum’s education programme to maximise impact on schools.

Visit the museum’s website.

Watch Sarah Lloyd explain how museums can act as showcases for both Science and Scientists (September 2014):

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