We did this review of the Ashmolean Museum as part of a day trip to Oxford. Middle Child has recently been learning about the Ancient Egyptians and Japanese art at school, so this was the perfect place to visit. We’ve been to the Ashmolean museum several times when the boys were younger, but it was the first time we’d taken smallest child. It might be the last for a while, but that’s more her issue than the Museums!!
The Ashmolean museum was actually the first public museum in Britain and it’s home to a large, really varied collection of exhibits. Pretty much every school history topic is covered here! We have always tended to spend a lot of time on the ground floor. This is all about the ancient world (Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, European prehistory and more). There’s some pretty cool stuff in there, including a couple of Mummies (which the kids always like). The fact the statues are all naked always gets plenty of giggles in our house!!
There’s one section that’s all about pottery and ceramics. All I can say in this section is THANK GOD FOR DISPLAY CABINETS! Trust me, a Bull in a China shop has nothing on a toddler in a ceramics exhibition. Could you imagine what Smallest Child would do to this if she could actually touch it???
There’s plenty of really interesting stuff in here. There’s the funeral shroud of one of the Henry’s (It does say which one but I forget now). We particularly liked the Chinese and Japanese sections. The Japanese warrior’s suit of armour is beautiful. There’s lots to do and all of the exhibits have good information about them.
The only (main) criticism of the Ashmolean Museum that is worth mentioning in the review is that it’s very much a “looking” museum, rather than a “hands-on” museum. As long as you’re kids are fine to just look and read, and don’t want lots of gadgets and things to do then it’s a really good museum. If they prefer a museum like that, then maybe this isn’t the best one for them. (Maybe check out the RAF Museum in London or Lookout Discovery Centre in Berkshire instead. They’ve got lots of hands-on stuff)
What is there for kids to do at the Ashmolean Museum?
If you’re reading this review of the Ashmolean Museum, the chances are you want to know if it’s any good for kids? Whilst there isn’t lots of hands-on stuff, there is plenty to captivate children and they make it quite easy to find those things.
If you go down to the basement there’s a little reading corner for the kids. It’s not particularly big and it doesn’t have that many books but it is a nice little place to sit and take a break if you need to. There’s also (at the bottom of the main staircase) a little drawing area. This was incredibly helpful when the kids were starting to flag a little bit. There’s plenty of paper and the pencils were actually sharp, which makes a change. The Ashmolean have a few different tails to do and they’re suitable for a variety of different ages. You can check them out online before you go.
There are Adventure Packs that you can borrow for £1 each. The Ashmolean run regular family-friendly events and exhibitions as well.
Other family friendly points include a decent baby change, large lockers (£1), a buggy park and a lift to get the pushchair around. The staff are also amazing. When we walked in Middle Child needed a wee urgently. I asked about the lifts and happened to mention that I needed to get him to the loo. She offered to take him down and show him where they are whilst I was waiting for the lifts.
Entry is free, but there’s a suggested donation of £5
None on-site. There are a couple of car parks nearby and some (expensive) on-street parking. I’d recommend using the park and ride if possible
On the ground floor. They also have a baby change
No food is allowed in the museum but there is a restaurant and cafe on-site.
Our Ashmolean Museum Review
How much you get out of a visit to the Ashmolean Museum probably depends on the age of your children. Smallest Child (2 1/2) didn’t really enjoy it that much. The older children did both have a good time and found all the exhibits interesting. It also depends on the type of museum your kids enjoy. The lack of hands-on activities may put some kids off. It’s a really good museum, and we’ve been multiple times, but not everyone is going to enjoy it.
I’m Vicky and I am a mum of three living in Aylesbury. I set up Free Time with the Kids to review free and cheap family days out in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire, mainly because I kept forgetting all the fabulous places that were recommended to me!! I love getting out and about with the kids (and hubby of course) and we have adventures all over the place. My reviews tell you all the things you need to know about the family days out and activites we’ve done such as how much it costs, if there’s parking, toilets and if there’s a cafe or if picnics are allowed. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Facebook