The final review as part of our trip to Oxford is the History of Science Museum. I’d heard about it before, we were walking past it, and so we decided to pop in. I say “pop in” but that was easier said than done with a pushchair. There are a lot of steep, narrow steps to climb before you can get in. There is a sign saying there’s disabled access, but it leads you to a platform at the side which didn’t actually seem to go anywhere. In the end I walked the kids up the stairs and then carried the pushchair up.
As soon as we walked into the museum a couple of members of staff practically jumped on us telling me to put the pushchair in the corner of the shop. Not the most welcoming start. There is a good reason for them getting you to ditch the pushchair – to see any part of the History of Science Museum you have to go up or down lots of steps.
The museum is quite small, but they have a number of collections. There are also several temporary exhibitions that take place in the basement gallery. Personally, I really liked the astronomy and timekeeping sections. Even if you don’t understand what a lot of them are, there are some really beautiful bits of equipment in here. Unfortunately it is down to you to imagine what most of the things are because there isn’t the most informative signage.
There are also collections dedicated to the history of maths, physics, chemistry, medicines, microscopes and telecommunications. Their most famous exhibit is a blackboard that was once used by Albert Einstein. It’s not exactly big, but it is quite cool that they’ve got something he used for one of his lectures at the university. They also have one of the original specimens used to culture penicillin. It looks pretty gross tbh, but it’s a life saver!
How family friendly is the History of Science Museum?
Of the museums I’ve been to review in Oxford, the History of Science Museum is the least family friendly. Yes, they run family events, and they also have family trials, but that doesn’t make it family friendly. BTW – Have a look on their website for details of the events and trails. Access is a real issue. It’s not their fault as it’s a very old building, in a cramped location and it wasn’t designed for mass tourism. There are no toilets – you have to go across the road to the Weston Library.
The boys didn’t find the exhibits that interesting because they didn’t really know what they were looking at. Smallest Child couldn’t really see that much and had zero interest in what they had. I’ll be honest, we weren’t in there for very long at all. Personally, I thought it was fascinating and I’m not saying it’s a bad museum, I just don’t think the History of Science Museum is a particularly family friendly one.
Entry is free but donations are encouraged
There is no parking on-site. Use the town centre car parks, or on-street parking. Ideally use the park and ride.
None on site. You’ll have to go across the street to the Weston Library to use the facilities.
No food is allowed in the museum
Our History of Science Museum Review
How good the History of Science Museum is depends on the reason you’re reading this review. If you’re planning on visiting with younger children, then I’m not sure this is the best of the three Oxford University Museums to visit. Maybe, if you have older children with an interest in science or maths it would be worth it. If you’re visiting as an adult and happened to be in Oxford then it’s worth a visit. I wouldn’t make a special trip to visit it though.
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