Oxford University Museum of Natural History reopens following £2m glass tile roof restoration


After a 14-month roof restoration project the Oxford University Museum of Natural History is set to reopen its doors to the public on Saturday 15 February at 7.00am.

The reopening draws to a close a complex restoration project conducted by the University of Oxford to prevent the glass-tiled roof of the Museum from leaking rainwater into the courts, as it has for many years. The £2 million roofing work was completed by Beard Oxford and specialist heritage architects Purcell. It involved more than 8,500 glass tiles being individually removed, cleaned and resealed with a mastic silicone. Where necessary, replacement glass tiles have been handmade to match the Victorian originals.

“We’ve really enjoyed working with the Oxford University Estates Services, the Museum of Natural History team, Purcell and our subcontractors on this magnificent and unique restoration project,” says Stephen French, Beard Site Manager for the project. “Now with a new lease of life, we hope the Museum’s newly-restored glass-tiled roof will continue to be admired and enjoyed by many generations of visitors to come.”

The closure has also permitted projects that would have been difficult while the Museum was open. Construction scaffolding allowed staff to complete successful conservation work on a number of whale skeletons, which were lowered from their position above the court, treated for the first time in over 100 years, and then raised again in a new configuration. Additional lighting has also been installed throughout the public areas of the Museum, including specially-designed rings of LEDs attached to the underside of the building’s original gas-lamp fittings.

Hundreds of specimens are now being carefully unwrapped, checked and replaced in the displays ready for the reopening on Saturday 15 February.

Paul Smith, Director of the Museum, comments: “This has been a long, dark year with the Museum closed to visitors. Although the closure has been a great opportunity to experiment with different ways of taking our specimens to the public, it will be very nice to see the doors opened again on Saturday 15 February, and to have the sound of visitors filling the space once more – without them having to move around buckets to collect rainwater.”

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