Ashmolean Museum Oxford
Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, one of the four museums of the University of Oxford and the oldest public museum of art, archaeology, and natural history in Great Britain.
The Ashmolean came into existence when the wealthy antiquary Elias Ashmole gifted his collection to the University in 1682. He did so ‘because the knowledge of Nature is very necessary to human life and health.’ It opened as Britain’s first public museum, and the world’s first university museum.
The present Ashmolean Museum building was designed in the Neoclassical style by C.R. Cockerell and erected between 1841 and 1845. It houses the collection of art and archaeology, while the old Thomas Wood building has become the Museum of the History of Science.
Though the collection has evolved considerably, the founding principle remains: that knowledge of humanity across cultures and across times is important to society. Again in 2009 the museum underwent major redevelopment. Their new curatorial style unites unexpected artifacts from diverse geographies and cultures together under stylistic similarities. In what they are calling “Crossing Cultures, Crossing Time,” the Ashmolean juxtaposes a Hellenistic figurine of the first century CE to a Buddhist figure from India in the third century CE, tracing the journey of Alexander the Great into India from Greece. The museum understands all cultural history as interrelated rather than isolated.
The 20th century saw some more significant acquisitions, notably the collections of the Indian Institute, which resulted in establishing separate departments for Western and Eastern art. In 1959 the collection of classical casts established itself as a separate department from antiquities. The creation of the departments as they currently stand (Western Art, Eastern Art, Antiquities, Cast Gallery and the Coin Room) brought about a new emphasis in scholarship in these specialist fields and a new impetus to collect around these different areas of interest.
Beaumont St, Oxford OX1 2PH UK
10am–5pm Tuesday–Sunday (Closed Mondays)
Ashmolean Museum Oxford | paintings in chronological order
1876 – 1900