Oxford University’s gardens, libraries and museums attracted 3,311,764 visitors in 2019, according to the latest figures, just released, from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA).
This is the third year in a row that visitor numbers have topped three million, with the Bodleian Libraries featuring in the UK’s top 50 visitor attractions and in the top 20 visitor attractions in England.
The Bodleian Libraries welcomed 760,815 visitors in 2019, making it one of the top 50 visitor attractions in the UK. This is the third year in a row that the Bodleian Libraries have attracted over 750,000 visitors. Exhibitions based on the Libraries’ incredible collections – like 2019’s Talking Maps and Thinking 3D: Leonardo to Present – combined with the Bodleian’s renowned historic spaces proved a huge draw for visitors in 2019.
The start of 2020 saw a range of fascinating exhibitions on display including The Art of Advertising at the Weston Library (opened 5 March), Alice in Typhoidland, an unexpectedly timely exhibition about the battle against typhoid in 19th century Oxford at the History of Science Museum and Weston Library (opened 21 January).
All of Oxford University’s Gardens, Libraries and Museums then temporarily closed to the public in March 2020 following Government guidelines in response to COVID-19. During this closure period the online resources made available by all sites proved hugely popular with the public. These have included virtual tours and lectures, collections-based activities like the Museum of Natural History’s More than a Doodle initiative, online jigsaw puzzles at the Ashmolean Museum, activities to create your own Zodiac signs at the History of Science Museum or learning to build a terrarium with the Botanic Garden and Arboretum.
Now Oxford University’s Gardens, Libraries and Museums sites have reopened or are planning to reopen. The Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum reopened to the public in June with the Arboretum proving particularly popular, welcoming significantly more visitors than last year. The Ashmolean Museum plans to reopen to the public in August, the Pitt Rivers Museum and Museum of Natural History are scheduled to reopen to the public in September, and the History of Science Museum and Weston Library are due to follow in October. The Old Bodleian Library plans to reopen to visitors in early autumn, date to be confirmed.