Getting about


With our Goes to Town exhibits in place all over Oxford city centre, we are keeping our collections hard at work even while the Museum is closed. But it isn’t just our specimen collections that are getting all the action – material from the Archives has journeyed outside the Museum walls too…

In association with the Friends of Summertown Library, we have put together a display from our archival collections celebrating former Summertown resident and Museum scientist John Obadiah Westwood. Westwood was the first Hope Professor of Zoology at the University in the late 19th century, and in addition to being a leading figure in the development of entomology as an academic discipline, he was also an amazing artist.

Westwood was so well known for his ability to accurately capture the details of insect specimens in his own work that he was commissioned to complete illustrations for a number of important entomological texts of his time.

Chairman of the Friends of Summertown Library, Marcus Ferrar, with the display at Summertown Library
Chairman of the Friends of Summertown Library, Marcus Ferrar, with the display at Summertown Library

Our archive is full of examples of Westwood’s talents, though most of his drawings have never been on display to the public before. This first-of-a-kind display for our Archive features a number of original copies of his work, including drawings of butterflies, beetles and even medieval manuscripts. It also features lots of interesting facts about Westwood, including his love of gardening and his fascination with biblical texts.

Westwood by Chris JarvisThe exhibit in Summertown Library runs until 18 October 2013 and can been seen during library opening hours. If you’re there with children don’t forget to ask for a Museum of Natural History colouring sheet, featuring this drawing of Westwood in action by our other talented Museum artist and Education Officer, Chris Jarvis.

A big thanks goes to the Friends of Summertown Library for working with us to make this unique opportunity happen. Do let us and the library know what you think.

Kate Santry, Head of Archival Collections

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