CURATORS at Oxford University’s Museum of Natural History are embarking on the first major changes to its permanent displays in almost 20 years.

The specimens, including the Oxfordshire dinosaurs and the famous Oxford Dodo, will be on the move from this month, as old display cabinets are removed to make way for new conservation-grade showcases.

The changes are part of the initial phase of longer-term plans to transform the displays in the Parks Road museum’s main court.

Oxford Mail:

Thanks to funding from waste firm FCC Environment, the new showcases will feature thematic displays, offering visitors thought-provoking narratives around the sciences of the natural environment.

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Prof Paul Smith, museum director, said: “These are exciting changes for the museum, as we look to provide our large and varied audiences with inspiring, scientifically rigorous and aesthetically beautiful presentations of the natural world.

"Thanks to the generous gift from FCC Environment we are also able to safeguard our heritage with the purchase of bespoke showcases that meet today’s conservation and display standards.”

Oxford Mail:

Developed around the concept of Life, As We Know It, the new displays will include beautiful presentations of the diversity of life, and address the importance and fragility of biodiversity and human impact on the environment. Further displays will look at how the biological processes of evolution combine with the geological processes of the earth, leading to the complexity and variety of the natural world.

The museum now receives more than 750,000 visitors a year.

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The central 12 display cases will be removed, one by one, outside museum opening hours.

Oxford Mail:

New cases will be installed in the court from April.

Their structure will offer a lighter, more elegant framework, with a greater degree of transparency, allowing the architecture more visual space.

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They will also better protect and preserve the specimens on display

The last major redevelopment of the permanent exhibits dates from the early 2000s, when annual visitor numbers were about 175,000, a quarter of today’s figures.