Get on your soapbox


Mary Kingsley (l) and Mary Anning (r) prepare for their appearance in Soapbox City
Mary Kingsley and Mary Anning prepare for their appearance in Soapbox City

As April draws to a close, Oxford prepares for the traditional May Morning celebrations. Alongside the choir singing on Magdalen Tower, the reckless students leaping from the bridge and morris dancing in the medieval streets, you will find staff from Oxford University Museums joining in with the revelries.

An early-morning dung beetle will be taking to the soapbox
An early-morning dung beetle will be taking to the soapbox

The Museums have taken charge of a one hour slot, from 8-9am, with staff from the Museum of the History of Science, Pitt Rivers Museum and, of course, the Museum of Natural History taking to the stage during the hour. If you’re willing to get up bright and early, you’ll be able to see a giant dung beetle arguing the value of his species, a T rex in a rap battle with a dodo, and two dignified ladies visiting from the past to remind everyone just how significant they really were.

Ellena Smith, ASPIRE Assistant across the Museums, is co-ordinating the Museums’ slot. She says;

Soapbox City is a fantastic opportunity to share knowledge and insight from Oxford University Museum staff in a fun and exciting way, and a great chance for the Oxford University Museums to reach out to a new audience.

Here’s the full timetable for the Museums’ shift:

08:00 Shooting Holes in Pitt Rivers Myths, Helen Adams (Pitt Rivers Museum)

08:05 Music in the Museum, Kelly Smith (HLF Trainee)

08:10 Conservation Station, Bethany Palumbo (Museum of Natural History)

08:15 Cockroaches: Pets or Pests, Darren Mann (Museum of Natural History)

08:20 Why the World needs Dung Beetles, Chris Jarvis (Museum of Natural History)

08:25 Natural History Stand-up, David Legg (Museum of Natural History)

08:30 T rex Vs the Dodo Rap Battle, Steven Williams (Museum of Natural History)

08:35 A Tale of Two Marys, Caroline Cheeseman and Rachel Parle (Museum of Natural History and Joint Museums Volunteer Service)

08:40 Why older people are radical, Helen Fountain (Museum of Oxford)

08:45 Geek is Good, Scott Billings (Museum of the History of Science)

08:50 When History Goes Wrong, Stephen Johnston (Museum of the History of Science)

08:55 You think you are smart?! Silke Ackermann (Museum of the History of Science)

If you’re up early for the festivities (or still awake from the night before!), do join us on Broad Street for a little May Morning museum madness.

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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