University of Oxford

Follow us @OxfordASPIRE

This is an archive site and is not updated. It represents works conducted by Oxford University Museums funded by Arts Council England between 2012-2018. For information about our current work please visit

Ashmolean’s Summer Family Fun 2013

24 October 13 -- jsuess

This summer ASPIRE used their Arts Council funding to support a pilot series of family programming and promotion at the Ashmolean. Using the tagline Friendly, Fun and Free, between 30th July and 30th August this new programme of activity was in addition to the workshops and trails usually run by the Museum’s Education Department over the summer. This was done in response to recent research conducted in partnership with Morris Hargreaves McIntyre which indicated that despite the Ashmolean’s extensive family offer, it was viewed by the public as less family friendly than other museums in the region.

In addition to the Ashmolean’s regular lines of promotion through their website, What’s On publication, the Oxford University Museums’ Family Friendly Leaflet, press, etc., the Museum launched a targeted marketing campaign to reach both local families and those from further afield across the South East. New promotional activity included:

  • The Museum developed a new families landing page on their website which advertised not only the activities for families, but also key facilities such as baby change, buggy parks, etc. The pages also included downloadable trails and colouring sheets, and the new family friendly Ashmolean promotional film.
  • The new activities were promoted on Facebook and Twitter, and families were encouraged to respond and send feedback and photos of themselves enjoying the museum. 
  • Advertising and listings in Primary Times magazines (Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire) and Families Magazine online.  They were selected as Primary Times reaches every primary age child in the regions specified, and is delivered in school book bags to parents/carers.  Families Magazine was selected as it reaches many non-school care providers (nurseries, child minders, play groups etc).  Press Releases to local news media. 
  • A new film promoting the Museum to families and the message Friendly, Fun and Free.

In addition to the Ashmolean’s core family offer, new pre-programmed activity took the form of workshops delivered every Wednesday and Thursday from 2-4pm in Gallery 9 (Ancient World).  A new Family Friendly Trolley was also staffed in the gallery every Tuesday to Friday from 1-3pm by two Family Friendly Champions – staffed specifically trained to welcome families, meet their needs and engage them with the activities. The family trolley offering a series of activities including:

  • Big Birthday Top 10 Trail: Celebrating the Museum’s 330th birthday and inviting families to vote for their number one object/art work via social media. The trail used a picture of Elias Ashmole created by one of the Museum’s young visitors during a family visit.
  • Family backpacks containing a selection of activities to help families have fun, learn about the collections and discover the museum.
  • Make and Take: A weekly quick activity linked to the special exhibitions and displays over the summer, for example: Stradivarius: straw flutes exploring the sound and vibrations; Master Drawings: warm up drawing games; Manju Netsuke: origami and tanabata wish tree.

August 2013 was a very successful month for the Ashmolean for engaging families: 617 children and 457 adults took part in family workshops; 1,191 children and 652 adults participated in Make and Take or used the backpacks; 5,080 family trails were distributed; and 700 colouring sheets were used in the Ashmolean Café.

Feedback has also been extremely positive. One parent attending a family drop in event said: "The staff were very friendly and helpful and the activities were some of the best we have done. The children enjoyed in very much." Another parent commented: "It’s a super museum and the new child-friendly activities in the galleries themselves are educational and fun."

Families continue to be a target audience for all the Oxford University Museums and we are looking to develop further our family offer.