- Ashmolean Museum
caption=The present museum building within central Oxford
The Ashmolean Museum (in full the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology) on
Beaumont Street, Oxford, England, is the world's first university museum. Its first building is sometimes attributed to Sir Christopher Wren, though there is no good evidence for this claim, and was built in 1678–1683 to house the collection or cabinet of curiosities Elias Ashmolegave Oxford Universityin 1677.
The works include that of
Elias Ashmole, which he had collected himself as well as those he had acquired from the gardeners, travellers and collectors John Tradescant the elderand his son of the same name. The collection included antique coins, books, engravings, geological specimens, and zoological specimens — one of which was the stuffed body of the last Dodoever seen in Europe, but by 1755 it was so moth-eaten it was destroyed, except for its head and one claw. The museum opened on 6 June 1683, with naturalist Robert Plotas the first keeper.
After the various specimens had been moved into new museums, the "Old Ashmolean" building on Broad Street was used as office space for the "
Oxford English Dictionary" staff. Since 1935, the building has been established as the Museum of the History of Science, with exhibitions including the scientific instruments given to Oxford University by Lewis Evans (1853–1930), amongst them the world's largest collection of astrolabes.
The present building dates from 1845. It was designed by Charles Cockerell in a classical style and stands on Beaumont Street. One wing of the building is occupied by the
Taylor Institution, the modern languages faculty of the university. The main museum contains the original collections of Elias Ashmoleand John Tradescant (father and son), as well as huge collections of archaeologyspecimens and fine art. It has one of the best collections of Pre-Raphaelitepaintings, majolicapottery and English silver. The archaeology department includes the bequest of Arthur Evansand so has an excellent collection of Greek and Minoan pottery. The department also has an extensive collection of antiquities from Ancient Egyptand the Sudan, and the museum hosts the Griffith Institutefor the advancement of Egyptology.
The interior of the Ashmolean has been extensively modernised in recent years and now includes a restaurant and large gift shop. The
Sackler Library, incorporating the older library collections of the Ashmolean, opened in 2001 and has allowed an expansion of the book collection, which concentrates on classical civilization, archaeology and art history.
Between 2006 and 2009, the museum is in a process of extensive rebuilding and expansion to the designs of architect
Rick Mather, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. As a consequence some of the galleries have been closed, though most of the highlights are still on show. The rebuilding will result in five floors instead of three, with a doubling of the display space as well as new conservation studios and an education centre. As of 2007most of the exterior cleaning of the building to remove soot has been completed, and the construction work in the building is well under way.
Highlights of the collection include:
* Drawings by
Michaelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci
* Watercolours and paintings by Turner
* Paintings by
Paolo Uccello, Piero di Cosimo, John Constable, Claude Lorraine, and Pablo Picasso
* Arab ceremonial dress owned by
Lawrence of Arabia
* A death mask of
* The collection of
Posie rings that supposedly inspired the One Ringin J. R. R. Tolkien's " The Lord of the Rings"
* The Parian Marble, the earliest extant example of a Greek chronological table
* The ceremonial cloak of
lantern Gunpowder Plotconspiracist Guy Fawkescarried in 1605
Messiah Stradivarius, a violin made by Antonio Stradivari
* The Minoan collection of
Arthur Evans, the biggest outside Crete
The Alfred Jewel was the inspiration for the "The
WolvercoteTongue", in which the museum's interior was used as a set. [cite web| title= Itinerary for Inspector Morse Tour| url= http://www.tourinaday.com/oxford/inspector-morse-tour.php| work= Oxford, England| publisher= TourInADay| quote= The Ashmolean Museum is home to The Alfred Jewel that inspired the Inspector Morse episode, The Wolvercote Toungue. This episode ... used the inside of the Ashmolean as a set.| accessdate= 2008-07-04]
31 December 1999(New Year's Eve), thieves used scaffolding on an adjoining building to climb onto the roof of the Ashmolean to break through a skylight, stealing a painting by Cézanne. As the thieves ignored other works in the same room and it has not been offered for sale, it is speculated that this was a case of an artwork stolen to order. [cite news| title= Art World Nightmare: Made-to-Order Theft; Stolen Works Like Oxford's Cezanne Can Vanish for Decades| url= http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D05E3DD123FF930A35751C0A9669C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all| last= Lyall| first= Sarah| authorlink= Sarah Lyall | work= Arts| publisher= The New York Times| quote= ... the thief carried with him exactly what he had come for, a $4.8 million Cezanne oil on canvas, 'Auvers-sur-Oise,' which was painted between 1879 and 1882 ...| date= 2000-02-03| accessdate= 2008-07-04]
Directors and Keepers
* Christopher Brown 1998-
* Christopher White -1997
K T Parker1945-1962
Edward Thurlow Leeds1928-1945
David George Hogarth1909-1927
Sir Arthur Evans1884-1908
John Henry Parker1869-
John Shute Duncan1823-1829
Ian Robetson was not Keeper of the Ashmolean: R.W.Hamilton was the last Keeper: he was succeeded by the first Director, D. T. Piper (later Sir David Piper) in 1973; he retired in 1985 and was succeeded by Christopher White
* [http://www.ashmolean.org/ Ashmolean Museum website]
* [http://www.saclib.ox.ac.uk/ Sackler Library]
* [http://www.ashmolean.museum/Griffith.html The Griffith Institute]
* [http://www.chem.ox.ac.uk/oxfordtour/ashmolean/ Virtual Tour of the Ashmolean Museum, photography from 2003]
* [http://www.she-philosopher.com/gallery/powhatan-map.html Powhatan's Mantle — pictures, description & history]
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