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Temple of Science

Oxford University Museum of Natural History is a unique fusion of architecture, science and art. Built in the 1850s, it uses sculpture, painting and design to embody scientific principles and discoveries. In this series of illustrated podcasts, recorded to accompany his book Temple of Science: The Pre-Raphaelites and Oxford University Museum of Natural History, John Holmes takes us on a guided tour of the art and architecture of the museum, revealing how leading scientists collaborated with artists of genius to create one of the great masterpieces of the Gothic Revival and Pre-Raphaelite art.

John Holmes is Professor of Victorian Literature and Culture at the University of Birmingham and an Honorary Associate of Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

# Episode Title Description People Date
1 Episode 1 – Oxford's Pre-Raphaelite Natural History Museum In the first episode of Temple of Science we find out how the Museum came to be, involving not only scientists but artists, architects and designers in one of the most original creative collaborations of the Victorian age. John Holmes 29 Sep 2020
2 Episode 2 – 'God’s Own Museum': The Façade In episode 2 of Temple of Science, we take a closer look at the decoration on the outside of the Museum building, which captures the vitality of nature, presented in Victorian Oxford as the study of God’s creation. John Holmes 01 Oct 2020
3 Episode 3 – The Sanctuary of the Temple of Science: The Central Court The central court of the Museum was described by one founder as ‘the sanctuary of the Temple of Science’. In this episode we see how every detail of this unique space was carefully planned and crafted to form a comprehensive model of natural science. John Holmes 01 Oct 2020
4 Episode 4 – Chambers of the Ministering Priests: Building Scientific Disciplines The Museum was founded on the principle that art should be used to teach science and to inspire generations of scientists. In episode 4 of Temple of Science we see how this was put into practice in some of the building’s less familiar spaces. John Holmes 01 Oct 2020
5 Episode 5 – Babylon: Natural Theology versus Scientific Naturalism When Museum opened in 1860, a new secular approach to science was on the rise. In the final episode of Temple of Science we see how ‘natural theology’ responded to the challenges of Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution and natural selection. John Holmes 01 Oct 2020