A slice of science with your cuppa


The view from the Museum’s upper gallery has always been spectacular; it’s the best place to admire the roof’s decorative iron work or to spot the dinosaurs lurking below. But add a great cup of coffee and a slice of cake to the experience and it steps up to a new level of pleasure. So it’s been fantastic to see so many happy visitors enjoying a break in our brand new café, Mortons at the Museum.

IMG_1127But we know that our visitors are a discerning bunch and are keen to learn, even when they’re enjoying elevenses, so we’ve installed a new display that runs the length of the upper gallery. A-Z is a taster of 26 natural history topics for you to get your teeth into.

From A for Adaptation to Z for Zoogeography, the alphabetical adventure whizzes past terms as diverse as Nocturnal and Living FossilIt’s designed so that you can take a pick and mix approach to whet your appetite, before devouring the large-scale displays around the Museum.

Zoë Simmons examining an abalone shell ready for the Iridescence case.
Zoë Simmons examines a Haliotid shell for the Iridescence case.

Zoë Simmons, of the Museum’s Life Collections, curated A-Z. She says that “One of the greatest challenges of the project was working on a display that encompasses such a wide range of subjects and crosses all disciplines of the Museum’s collections. I learnt a lot whilst researching and writing up the text for these displays.

“My favourite case is Iridescence. Not only is it full of beautiful rainbow-hued objects, but it has examples from all areas of the collections. There’s a fossilised ammonite, peacock ore, a Nectarinia bird, a jewel scarab and a Haliotid shell. It’s wonderful to be able to put a truly multi-disciplinary case together, as the opportunity is rare.”

A to Z

Each case has two levels of interpretation; a shorter, more light-hearted piece of text pitched at an average 10 year old visitor (though enjoyed by big kids too!), plus a more in-depth explanation for those who prefer a bit more science with their snacks.

Lovely cakes in the new Café.

Tea and Typescake and Camouflage and sandwiches and Stromatolite seem to sit well together. Next time you’re experiencing museum fatigue, join us for a little nibble of natural history up in our brand new café.

Bon appétit.

Rachel Parle, Interpretation and Education Officer

Published by

More than a Dodo

I'm Public Engagement Manager at Oxford University Museum of Natural History and I look after permanent displays and other interpretation. I do a bit of social media on the side, too.

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