PO Box 10, Oxford, OX1 1EN
Tel 01865 249811
A brand new interactive experience which tells the story of Oxford and its people will be opening at the Town Hall on Saturday 23 June 2012.
Explore Oxford is Oxford City Council's new permanent museum gallery and will be open from 10am until 5pm on the opening day.
Take a trip through Oxford's history as a city and step into City Engineer, William White's, office from 1897 when the Town Hall was first opened. Rummage through his desk drawers and find out what projects he was working on - including the St Giles underground public conveniences - and discover artefacts from the Victorian era.
The maps on his drawing table show how Oxford has changed since it was first settled as a Saxon community in 910 AD
And for the Open Day you will be able to meet William White himself. Jeremy Smith, Features Editor, from the Oxford Mail will be dressing up and portraying the character.
Step through a door into the present day, and take a virtual high-speed bike tour heading east, west, south or north from the Town Hall, taking in many of the main city highlights as you travel. The tours show visitors where they can explore further for themselves, as well as featuring places that are not normally open to visitors such as inside the MINI plant.
The Open Day will also feature museum staff in Victorian costume, free Town Hall tours at 11am, 1pm and 3pm, face painting, family activities and a tea room.
Councillor Bob Price, Leader of the Council, says: "Explore Oxford is a brilliant concept, showing visitors and residents how our city has developed and evolved over the centuries.
"It is the only museum exhibition, in a city of world-class museums and heritage sites, which tells the story of Oxford and its people.
"The transformation of these Town Hall offices has been remarkable and the objects that we have selected to go into the space are unique and tell a vivid story of the city.
"The cycle ride is a great way of exploring the different communities within the city boundaries and think about where they may want to visit when they have finished discovering the Town Hall."
A wealth of characters associated with Oxford will help tell the story of Oxford with a timeline theme – you can see all the characters depicted on the drill hall corridor, past the Gift Shop.
1. AD 300 Tamesibugus potter by the Thames (Roman; male)
2. C.650-727 St Frideswide (Anglo-Saxon; female)
3. 1180(approx) - 1244 David of Oxford (medieval; male)
4. 1214 - 1292 Roger Bacon (medieval; male)
5. 1565 - 1622 John Davenant (Elizabethan; male)
6. 1628 - 1680 Lady Anne Fanshawe (Stewart; female)
7. James Sadler
8. 1837 - 1915 James Murray
9. 1848 - 1932 Sarah Jane Cooper (Victorian; female)
10. 1852 - 1934 Alice Liddell (Victorian; female)
11. Henry Thomas Hare (designer of Town Hall)
EARLY 20TH CENTURY
12. 1877 - 1963 Lord Nuffield (C20th; male)
The modern day characters chosen by the public are Olive Gibbs and Colin Dexter.
Museum of Oxford volunteers have contributed greatly to shaping the new gallery and choosing the artefacts to display in the galleries.
We are looking for people interested in learning about the history of Oxford and Oxford Town Hall with a few hours to spare to join our enthusiastic group of Volunteer Heritage Assistants.
Volunteer roles include stewarding the new galleries and staffing and promoting our exhibitions and events and helping care for our collections. If you want to be involved contact Vanessa Lea for more information 01865 25208.
The galleries also feature recordings from the Memory Lane sessions. These are monthly meetings, held in the Town Hall, that bring members of the community together to reminisce about Oxford's past. If you want to get involved contact Helen Fountain 01865 252795.
We are keen to work with family groups who would like to be involved with further developing the offer the Town Hall and Museum of Oxford. For more information contact Vanessa Lea 01865 252086.
The new galleries attracted funding of £43,600 from Heritage Lottery Fund and £48,628 from WREN
Stuart McLeod, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East England, says: "This project gives museum visitors a fresh perspective, not only on the city's history, but also the Town Hall building in which it is exhibited. It has also encouraged community involvement giving local volunteers a great opportunity to help with interpretation and display."
Peter Cox, managing director of WREN, says: "WREN makes a difference to people’s lives by awarding grants to community, environmental and heritage projects across the UK. We’re delighted to support Oxford City Council and their valuable work."
The changes are aimed at enhancing the Town Hall as a welcoming heritage venue for both local residents and tourists.
Explore Oxford will be officially opened by Colin Dexter at a private event on Thursday 21 June 2012.
The museum is accessed from the Town Hall's main entrance in St Aldate's (just down from Carfax Tower). It is open Monday to Saturdays, 10am until 5pm and Sundays, from 11am until 3pm. It is free to visit.
Released on Wednesday 20 June 2012