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Museum Matches

10 December 13 -- jsuess
Jessica Suess, Oxford ASPIRE Officer

On 26 November 2013, the Museum of Natural History hosted the first "Museum Matches" event as part of a joint museums project with the Ashmolean Museum aimed at engaging students from across the university with museum objects.

The idea for the event came out of the Oxford ASPIRE Innovation Day where colleagues from across the Oxford University Museums came together to discuss ideas for innovative new ways of working, and was supported by the ASPIRE Innovation Fund.

449 students signed up for the programme at Freshers Fair and were randomly allocated one of 20 objects from either the Museum of Natural History or the Ashmolean. Students were then sent a post card showing the details of their object and inviting them to an early evening event at the Museum of Natural History. Invitations were also sent to all active student volunteers in order to promote interaction between new students and those already engaged with and passionate about the museums.

On the night 10 members of staff from across the Earth and Life Collections at the Museum of Natural History spent an hour enthusing with the 50-60 students who attended the event about the specimens they had chosen.

Students were given badges matcing their postcard object
Students were given badges mating their postcard object

Staff and students alike seemed to enjoy the evening, and the feedback was extremely positive. Students were asked to write down one thing that made an impression on them during the evening. Responses included:

It was an amazing event, seeing fossils of 425 million years old! Beetles, fishes, fossils! Thank you for this warm and interesting event!
LONGHORN BEETLES. I want one as a hair clip!!
Very useful, and nice to see the museum during its downtime. The belemnites were great.
This was so great! Learned so much! And saw a whale fetus. Yay!
I would never have guessed dung beetles were so FASCINATING!
Being able to touch some of the specimens.
How to scan tiny insects in really old stuff. I’m a historian – and this is *really* old.
Excellent evening, thank you so much. It’s lovely to get a look behind the scenes & speak to such friendly and enthusiastic people. Brilliant!
SPERM WHALE TOOTH SO bIG – completely amazed. Also beetles. Also EVERYTHING.
Really interesting and fun!
Best decision I’ve made all day. Whale fetus [sad face] and now fear of fish!

Check out some tweets from the evening: