4,000 visitors help Museum of Natural History to celebrate its restoration

GLAZED GLORY: Richard Breese, Christine Breese and museum director Paul Smith

GLAZED GLORY: Richard Breese, Christine Breese and museum director Paul Smith Buy this photo

First published in News thisisoxfordshire: Photograph of the Author by

MORE than 4,000 people flocked to Oxford’s Museum of Natural History to join celebrations of its reopening.

The museum, in Parks Road, was shut for 14 months for a £2m restoration of its leaky glazed roof.

It opened again on Saturday with a day of activities including bug-handling sessions and live music.

Carterton sisters Ella, four, Emilia, two, and 11-month Isabelle Marshman, headed straight for the dinosaurs.

Ella said: “I really wanted to see the dinosaur bones, their bones are so scary. They’re ginormous.

“One of them is bad, because it has sharp teeth, but the other is good because it doesn’t.”

Emilia added: “They’re the best, because they have a long tail.”

The Tyrannosaurus Rex and Iguanodon skeletons are still the centrepiece of the museum.

The sisters’ mother Susie said: “They have been waiting for it to open since last summer.

“We had to go to see the dinosaurs in London but now we can come here. They’re having a great time. They’re all interested and happy.”

During the closure more than 8,500 glass roof tiles were lifted out, cleaned, replaced and resealed.

Some tiles in poor condition were replaced with handmade tiles to match the Victorian originals.

A new lighting system has also been installed so the museum can run more evening events.

Museum director Paul Smith said: “It’s fantastic to have the doors open again– we had people queuing at 7am.

“No museum likes to shut, so to have it filled with sound again is brilliant.

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CREEPY-CRAWLY: Hester Perry, above, and George Murray, below, met a Papua New Guinean spiny devil

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“This is just the beginning of what we want to do. We haven’t been able to touch the exhibits while the work was going on.

“We have a project to refurbish the exhibits over the next 10 years.”

Mr Smith said a new exhibition, which looks at the environment, energy supply and climate change, will be trialled in October before the full exhibition opens in January 2015.

He added: “It’s moving away from Victorian natural history.

“We will retain that but give it a contemporary twist.”

During the day, nine-year-old George Murray made friends with a spiny devil stick insect from Papua New Guinea.

George, from Whitehouse Road in South Oxford, said: “It was really fun.

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  • BIG FOOT: Emilia Marshman looks up at one of the dinosaur skeletons

“I was quite nervous at first, because my brother said it might be poisonous. It looked like a giant scorpion.

“I’m pleased the museum is open again and so is my brother Henry. He’s really excited, because he likes the dinosaurs.”

Grandparents Robert and Catherine Fox, from North Oxford, took George, Sebastian, seven, and Henry, four, for a day at the museum.

Mr Fox, 75, said: “It’s an absolutely magical place.

“Now it’s restored it looks that much better. It’s brilliant to see it put back into its original state.

“I’m delighted it’s open again. It has been a very special day.”

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