University tours, family activities and a chance to explore behind the scenes at Oxford Open Doors 2022

Thursday 1st Sep 2022, 2.19pm

Oxford Open Doors returns this month and once again Oxford University and its Colleges are joining in with numerous events including tours, children’s trails, family activities, exhibitions and a chance to explore behind the scenes and talk to researchers.

The event takes place on Saturday and Sunday, 10 and 11 September and invites visitors to enjoy local heritage which is sometimes hidden to the public day-to-day. It is organised by the Oxford Preservation Trust in partnership with the University of Oxford as part of the national Heritage Open Days.

There will be more than 100 free events and venue openings across the city. A full range of free, virtual events will also be on offer as well as self-guided walks.

University gardens, libraries, museums and departments opening include the Bodleian Libraries, Holywell Music Room, Oxford University Press, Blavatnik School of Government, the Sheldonian Theatre and Oxford Botanic Garden, which has been celebrating its 400th anniversary, with many offering special tours. At Oxford Martin School visitors can join a tour to discover Indian carvings, learn more about the architecture of the building, and hear about work being done by researchers on pressing global issues.

Image of children receiving Oxford Preservation Trust balloons at Oxford Open DoorsThere will be more than 100 free events and venue openings, with many special family activities.

The Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences will be running regular tours of the Botnar Research Centre and offering people a chance to talk to researchers about their ground breaking work. At the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, a presentation will be followed by a guided tour showing historical displays on the pioneering medical research done in the department, especially in the development of Penicillin.

As part of Oxford Open Doors 2022 visitors will also be able to learn more about the University’s cutting-edge research into COVID-19, immunology and cancer in real laboratories with sample preparation robots and microscope demonstrations, through hands-on family-friendly activities, and by meeting researchers at the Old Road Campus Research Building.

Many colleges are taking part as well. St John’s College will offer a mix of talks, self-guided tours – including a children’s treasure hunt – and exhibitions. At New College there will be an opportunity to see the city wall dating from the 12th century as well as the 14th century chapel and cloisters plus medieval dining hall.

Magdalen is inviting members of the public to enjoy the gardens, deer park, Addison’s Walk, chapel and hall. Harris Manchester College is offering an opportunity to see the Burne-Jones/William Morris stained glass in the chapel, visit the site where the D-Day landings were planned, and explore the small gardens, join guided tours of the Tate Library and enjoy a children’s trail around the chapel.

Discover something new

Oxford Open Doors launched in 2007 as a small project, created by Oxford Preservation Trust’s director Debbie Dance, and has gone on to become incredibly successful.

During COVID, organisers found ways to adapt the event rather than cancel it including Oxford Open Doors ‘goes outside’ in 2020 with a programme that also provided a range of virtual events for the first time.

By continuing to share virtual events alongside in-person events we are able to increase participation and access

Stephen Dawson

Stephen Dawson, assistant operations director at the Oxford Preservation Trust, says: ‘We are very proud that we were able to keep Oxford Open Doors going throughout the pandemic and are delighted to be able to increase the range of events and activities this year. It still amazes me that alongside old favourites we have new events and activities each year and there is always something new to discover in our city.

‘By continuing to share virtual events alongside in-person events we are able to increase participation and access to the Oxford Open Doors event. We are also delighted that the self-guided walks introduced in 2020 continue to be popular, so much so we share them all year now as well. We are delighted also this year to have worked with the local community in Rose Hill to share their heritage and green spaces through a new self-guided walk ‘Discovering Heritage and Green Spaces: Rose Hill’ which will be launched as part of Oxford Open Doors.  

‘We do not expect to go back to welcoming 35,000 visitors as we did in 2019 but would expect to see something in the region of 20,000 visitors this year.’

Director Debbie Dance adds: “The Oxford Preservation Trust team has worked very hard to bring you a great mix of old favourites and new striking places this year. We could not do this without our wonderful partner venues, volunteers, members, and the support of the University of Oxford.”

Find out more about the Oxford Open Doors programme here.