Oxford University, Museum of Natural History

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16 January 2009

A magnificent example of mid-Victorian neo-gothic architecture, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History was purpose-built to house the scientific collections acquired by the University during the 17th and 18th centuries.  The exhibits occupy a large central court and a surrounding two-storey arcade.  The steeply pitched roof of the court is made of glass tiles, and is supported on elegant cast-iron columns.

The Museum opened in 1860, and was inaugurated with ‘The Great Debate’ about Darwin’s Origin of the Species, which had been published the previous year.  Since then, the Museum has been the venue for many great meetings, as well as providing a popular attraction for the general public.  In particular, the central court, which is dominated by two dinosaur skeletons, has been used to host receptions, dinners and corporate hospitality functions.

As a result of this heavy usage, the flagstone floor had become worn, and the Museum administrators decided that the area should be carpeted to protect the stones.  The decision needed careful thought, because the carpet had to fit – in style and colour – with the ambience of the Victorian building.  It also needed to be resistant to fading from the natural daylight that the glass roof lets into the court.  The carpet chosen, Gradus’ Adventurer in ‘Nile Brown’ is a design with pindots of different shades of brown and grey, which complements the Museum’s interior décor.  Adventurer (formerly known as Explorer from C+A) has 12 versatile solution dyed colourways and is constructed as a multi-colour loop pile design in 1/13 inch gauge, providing guaranteed appearance retention and resistance to fading.  It is available as both PVC and bitumen backed tiles, or, as used in the Oxford Museum of Natural History, two-metre PVC-backed sheet.  The carpet, manufactured in the U.K., is fully recyclable, and Gradus will recover the carpet at the end of its useful life and recycle it back into new carpet components.