Ashmolean Museum with Kids │Review

Ashmolean Museum in Oxford is one of those places I’ve heard people talk about lots but have never really thought to visit with the children. On previous visits to Oxford we have visited the Museum of National History, which is a little bit of a walk from where we hop off the bus. Over February Half Term we wanted to get into the city, but we needed to get back home in time for my daughter’s swimming lessons, so wanted to stay as central as possible. I looked up the Ashmolean and spotted that it is located round the corner from our bus stop on Magdalen Street, which somehow I had never realised.

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
The outside of the museum itself, as you can see from the photo above, is absolutely stunning. There are both steps and ramps up to the front of the museum, and there are lifts inside so it is accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs. Entrance to the museum is free, but there is an option to give a voluntary donation, and maps are a £1 donation too. On arrival we popped straight to the main desk where they had a good selection of family trails. We were spoilt for choice really, but my daughter opted for the Animals of the Chinese Zodiac Trail. She had been learning about Chinese New Year at school so this trail really caught her interest. The woman at the desk told the children which Chinese Zodiac year they were born in* (Horse and Monkey), and gave them a corresponding sticker each. 

*Actually the conversation went like this:
Woman: So what year were you born in?
Daughter: Horse.
Woman: Oh, I mean what year where you born in? What number?
Daughter: I’m a horse.
Woman: Do you want to tell me what year and we’ll check on the little chart?
Me: She was born in 2014.
Woman: Ok, lets have a look. *consults chart*. Oh, yes. You are a horse. 
Daughter: See!

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
There were 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac to find on the trail. There were clues to follow, you had to find the item described, and answer a question about the item in question. Some items were easier to find than others but it was a good level for my 4.5 year old. I was expecting her to get bored a few clues in, but I was proved wrong. She loved it.

Once we had finished the trail, we popped down to Level -1 which wasn’t covered on this particular trail. We looked in a few of the rooms and then went to a small area where there was some paper and pencils to do some drawing. You could head here on arrival and take paper and pencils around the museum with you to sketch and make notes as you like.

It was very quiet when we visited the museum, but it was a Monday during term time (my daughter’s school had an inset day). We arrived around 10.30am, and left about 12pm, which I though was a good length of time for a 4 and 2.5 year old to be kept occupied in a museum! There are some benches outside the front of the museum so we perched there to have our packed lunch once we were done. 

To be honest, despite being in the museum for 1.5 hours, we barely saw half of the collections housed there. We will certainly be visiting again to see more and to try the other trails. In fact, my daughter has already asked when we’ll be back.
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford