Sunday, 10 January 2010
Oxford University Museum of Natural History
I started the day with mass at the St. Thomas Moore Chapel in the Oxford Newman Center. There are beautiful, historic churches throughout Oxford, but thanks to good ol' King Henry the VIII these are all affiliated with the Church of England. Mass at the Chapel was great though. I really enjoyed the sermon. My most favorite thing about being Catholic is the fact that I can walk into any church anywhere in the world on Sundays and know exactly what's happening. It's like being home even though I'm over four thousand miles away.
This afternoon I continued my Museum Tour. The Oxford Museum of Natural History is actually a museum created by the university. It houses the specimens the university's science departments don't need anymore. It housed portions of Darwin's collections amongst fossils representing the entire animal kingdom. There were rhino heads, a stuffed cheetah one is invited to pet upon arrival, and the largest blue tuna fossil I have ever seen. There I also saw the only surviving soft tissue remains of the Dodo Bird. I wish my nephew was with me, because the Museum as very inclusive for children. He would have loved the dinosaurs that hung from the ceiling.
The Museum is just as famous for its architecture as it is for its natural history. Intricate wrought iron and stone carvings of plants and animals adorn the central room of the museum. Besides the flora and fauna adorning the gables the likeness of scientists such as Aristotle, Newton, and Darwin are chiseled from the pillars of the building. Some of them, such as Darwin, studied at the university.
The Pitt Rivers Museum is adjacent to the Oxford University of Natural History. It houses a plethora of cultural anthropological artifacts. One exhibit highlighted an Eskimo poncho fashioned from seal intestines. It also highlighted shoes and handbags from different periods and places, (I hope some of you have noticed that I seek items such as shoes at museums, i.e. Mongolian boots.) including Manchu bridegroom slippers from the 19th century. I also learned the intricacies of Bobbin lace production.
As the daylight faded I made my way back to my flat; another successful Oxford adventure completed.