Travel blog: Exploring London’s museums, architecture

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Oxford offers breathtaking architecture, museums, culture
By Zandra Shafer
The Carolinian

Home to the oldest University in the English-speaking world, Oxford should be near the top of the site-seeing list for anyone with time to spend in the London area.

The University has many stunningly beautiful buildings throughout the town, many with histories that go back centuries. Incredible architecture is not unique to University buildings, though, most of the Old Town is covered with magnificent, original construction, with a story to tell.

You may want to get lost in a quaint bookshop specializing in antique, rare books, or spend the day in museums.

The Pitt Rivers Museum houses the anthropological and archaeological collections of Oxford University. The museum’s staff is involved in the teaching of both subjects at the university, opened in 1884.

The Museum of the History of Science is also a department of the university, as well as being the oldest standing museum, having been completed in 1683.

The Oxford University Museum of Natural History boasts a famous collection of geographical and zoological specimens including the Oxfordshire dinosaurs and the Dodo. Arguably the most notable of all the museums in Oxford, though, is the Ashmolean Museum.

Oxford’s history is awe-inspiring, its architecture is breathtaking and museums offer historical displays for people of all interests.

There are tours that children will find captivating. Walking tours – the city provides maps with major attractions – are easy to navigate. Bus tours are popular that are conducted by well-versed drivers and their guides.

The Wellcome Collection is less famous museum but just as magnificent
By Zandra Shafer

A less famous, yet equally magnificent museum to visit in London is The Wellcome Collection.

The personal collection of Sir Henry Wellcome, as well as a revolving door of exhibits, the Collection places an emphasis on the history of medical knowledge, the human anatomy, and discovery. It aims to bring together health, art, and life.

Wellcome was, surprisingly, an American. He was born in Wisconsin in 1853, and became the co-founder of a pharmaceutical business, Burroughs Wellcome & Company. He became a British citizen in 1910, and was knighted in 1932.

Wellcome had a life-long fascination with medicine and medical technology, and amassed a collection of more than 125,000 medically related items by the time of his death in 1936.


Photo by Zandra Shafer

“Medicine Man” is the permanent exhibit of Wellcome’s personal collection with items ranging in type and place of origin. Glass display cases in the center of the room feature everything from tattooed human flesh to a reliquary from the 18th century. One of the most controversial exhibits is a human skeleton.

The museum is an incredible mix of traditional art and artifact exhibition and a place of learning and discussion. The atmosphere throughout the Wellcome Collection encourages exploration and the pursuit of knowledge.

Sir Henry Wellcome would be proud of his legacy. It’s a museum experience unlike any other, and one that should not be missed.

Zandra Shafer, an aspiring travel writer, is a senior studying this summer in England.