Step free museum with an outstanding collection and extremely helpful staff
This review is especially helpful for those who have or use the following: Walking Aid
The Ashmolean is the University of Oxford’s museum of art and archaeology. The collection is especially strong on antiquities and art. The main museum has free admission but there is a charge for special exhibitions. There is a self service café on the lower ground floor and a roof top restaurant on the 4th floor. I visited specifically to see the Last Supper in Pompeii exhibition which is on until 12 January 2020.
Transport & Parking
I did a day trip to Oxford from London. I went by train from Paddington and the journey was about 50 minutes on a fast train service. When I arrived at Oxford train station it took me about 15 - 20 minutes to walk to the museum. The route was an easy, level walk, apart from a bridge over the canal, which was on a slight slope. I turned left onto Botley Street/ Park End Road on exiting the station complex. I kept on the left hand side of the road passing the Said Business School. I followed the road and it was almost a straight road until I got to Debenhams where I turned left into Magdalen Street. Then the museum was in the next block. I didn't notice any seating on the way and on a Saturday afternoon the city centre was busy.
The main entrance to the museum is on Beaumont Street. There is a short flight of stairs with a handrail or a ramp for step free access. At the entrance there is a revolving door and on either side are push button doors. The museum is step free. There are lifts to all floors, but not every lift serves all floors, which is slightly confusing. It's not ideal but staff were very helpful in pointing me in the right direction so it wasn't a problem. The lifts are not particularly large, it was crowded when there were 4 people standing in it. The lifts are busy so I usually had to wait a while for the lift to arrive. There are also stairs but I didn't use them. I went specifically to see the Pompeii special exhibition, which was on the third floor. The exhibition has been extremely popular and is often sold out, so when I visited it was very busy. I had requested a fold up stool and this was extremely helpful as there was a lot to see and I wanted to take the time to read the information panels. The exhibition was well laid out with mainly vertical glass cases. There were some benches without back support or arms throughout the exhibition. When I arrived at the museum I went to their self service café in the lower ground floor for a sandwich. The food was displayed on counter and shelves, both suitable for people at standing height. The café had a lot of free standing tables and chairs. The café area has a number of pillars. It was very busy when I visited. After the exhibition I went to the roof top restaurant on the 4th floor for afternoon tea. The restaurant is waiter service. There are free standing tables and chairs. There is also a step free outdoor terrace, which I didn't use.
The accessible toilets are not on all floors. I used the accessible toilet on the lower ground floor. There is step free access to it by lift and it was close to the café. I also used the accessible toilet on the 4th floor where the restaurant is. Both toilets were clean and spacious. There were grab rails and the emergency cord reached towards the floor. The 4th floor accessible toilet also had their own red cord card, see photo. It was lying on shelf when I arrived and I re-attached it to the cord.
Staff were wonderfully helpful. When I arrived there was a member of staff by the door. When I asked where the lift was to the café I go very clear directions without a moments hesitation. She told me to go into the gallery, asked me if I could see the white pillar with the Ancient Egypt and Sudan sign and I was to turn left to where the toilets were. *** Later when I asked where the lift was to the Pompeii exhibition the member of staff accompanied me into the corridor and pointed out the lift.*** When I arrived at the Pompeii exhibition I asked for a portable stool. The person checking the tickets, requested cover and quickly went off to bring me back a stool. *** Staff in the café didn't offer any assistance. Staff in the restaurant were very helpful and service was friendly and very good. ***Other venues should take note and follow suit, your staff too should know the access facilities and should be able to assist without making the disabled person feel like they are a nuisance for asking.
Anything else you wish to tell us?
Doing a day trip to Oxford from London is quiet tiring for me at the moment as I'm still recovering from surgery as well as having a long standing mobility disability. The staff I felt really went out of their way to assist me when I asked for help. The museum was very busy and crowded and the staff all assisted readily and in such a nice manner. It really took the stress out of my visit. Can't thank them enough. The food at the café and the restaurant was excellent and delicious. The rest of the museum looks amazing so I need to come back again for another visit to see their regular collection again. Highly recommend.