John Obadiah Westwood

‘Presenting…’ is a changing display of treasures from the Museum.

The link on the right takes you to our current display, now on view in the Museum:

John Obadiah Westwood
John Obadiah Westwood (1805-1893) was the University of Oxford's first Hope Professor of Zoology. He was best known for his scientific contributions to entomology, the study of insects.

Below you can browse through our previous Presenting... exhibits.
Please click on the picture to the left for the full page.

Rainbow Scarabs

Delightful Dung Beetles
Nowadays dung beetles are one of the more popular groups of insects used in ecological and evolutionary research.

Lyell collection shells

Charles Lyell
Discover how this former lawyer helped to change geology forever.

'Flight' of the Dodo

'Flight' of the Dodo
Although it is now an icon of extinction, it wasn’t until the 19th century that interest in the Oxford Dodo grew from scientific publications about the extinction of dodos.

Pioneers of photography

Pioneers of photography
Photography was first developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many early innovators of this art form had close links to the Museum and its collections.

Dr Buckland and the Bear

Dr Buckland and the Bear
The curious case of two Victorian scientists and a cave bear's toe.

The Worldwide Web

The Worldwide Web
How spiders linked the world together, and the man at the centre of it all.

plesiosaur flipper

A plesiosaur named Eve
Introducing a newly-discovered marine reptile from the Jurassic period. During the Jurassic period most of the UK was covered in a warm, shallow sea, teeming with life. Dinosaurs ruled the land, but the ocean was the realm of swimming reptiles, such as plesiosaurs…

Bee diversity

The wonderful diversity of bees
Bees are one of the major groups of insects, numbering about 20,000 described species. But only a very small proportion of bees are honeybees or bumblebees - most species are actually solitary bees.


The other Audubon
John James Audubon is one of the most famous American naturalists that ever lived, but his son John Woodhouse, also a talented artist and naturalist, is virtually unknown. What role did John Woodhouse play in Audubon’s last years and what legacy did he leave behind?

A wartime gift

A wartime gift
Hugo Müller's grieving widow bequeathed this polished slice of the Zacatecas meteorite to the Museum in 1915.

Sunset moth

Madagascan specimens, including this Sunset Moth, from the Museum’s collections.

Shark teeth

Fossils from the Gault Clay
The Gault Clay is known for its exceptional diversity of fossils. These teeth are from a variety of shark species found in the Gault Clay.

Dodo head

The Oxford Dodo
The Dodo is the most famous of all creatures to have become extinct in historical times. But how much do we really know about it?

Megalosaurus jaw

This iconic fossil was used in the first scientific description of a dinosaur - Megalosaurus - in 1824. It was acquired by William Buckland (1784-1856), Reader in Geology at the University of Oxford, after being found in a slate quarry in Stonesfield, Oxfordshire.

Charles Darwin’s insects

Charles Darwin's insects
The last person to see these insects alive was Charles Darwin. They were collected in Australia and Tasmania and sent back to England for identification.

Martinez Pinyon pine cone

Pine cones, great and small
Decorated pine trees are a festive essential, so we invited our colleagues at the University of Oxford’s Herbaria to share a few of their favourites.

The Breath of Life

The Breath of Life
We look at breathing across the animal kingdom. The evolutionary adaptations of this most basic life function are many and varied: a simple breath is not so simple after all.

Collections Manager - Hilary Ketchum

The Museum's Earth Collections Manager - Hilary Ketchum
Hilary has chosen some of her favourite things from the Museum's collections.

The science of disguise

The science of disguise
We look at insects that have evolved to resemble another in order to trick prey or predators, and ones that use camouflage, by mimicking bark or leaves.

William Smith fossils

William Smith
Almost 200 years ago, William Smith published the first geological map of England and Wales. This was an incredible feat, requiring an enormous breadth of geological knowledge.

Alfred Russel Wallace

Alfred Russel Wallace
Thursday 7 November 2013 marked the centenary of the death of Alfred Russel Wallace, one of the 19th-century’s greatest explorers and naturalists. This exhibit celebrates Wallace’s long association with the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and its collections.

Limerick meteorite

A space traveller's arrival
At 9 o’clock in the morning on September 10th, 1813, the residents of County Limerick in Ireland had a bit of a surprise. They hear loud bangs as a shower of meteorites fell to ground. More than 48kg of rock had just arrived on Earth from space!


Museum memories
If there is one person who has a very special knowledge of our amazing building and collections, it is Chris Burras. Chris, who was Head of Technical Services for many years, retired in 2013, and here he describes some his favourite things in the Museum.


It is astonishing to think that a split second of stormy weather can be captured in stone. This is is exactly what happened when a bolt of lightning struck drifting sand near Drigg, in Cumbria. The intense heat fused the sand grains together to form the delicate glassy tube you can see to the left - a fulgurite.

Trace fossil

Schoolboy discovers rare trace fossil
An extremely rare trace fossil of footprints laid down more than 300 million years ago was brought to the Museum recently by ten-year-old schoolboy Bruno Debattista. Thinking that the piece of shale rock he had collected while on holiday in Cornwall might contain a fossilised imprint, Bruno showed the specimen to our Education department’s Natural History After-School Club, which he had been attending each week.

Burchell's tortoise

William Burchell
March 2013 commemorated the 150th anniversary of the death of explorer and naturalist William John Burchell. He left a treasure trove of natural history specimens, many of which are now in the Museum.

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