|The Ashmolean Museum of Art & Archaeology, click and drag to rotate the view.
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 was built in 16781683 to house the cabinet of curiosities Elias Ashmole gave Oxford University in 1677.
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The works include those of Elias Ashmole, which he had collected himself as well as those he had acquired from the gardeners, travellers and collectors John Tradescant the elder and 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 Dodo ever 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 24 May 1683, with naturalist Robert Plot as the first keeper. The first building, which became known as the Old Ashmolean, is sometimes attributed to Sir Christopher Wren and Dr. R. T. Gunther.
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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 Ashmole and John Tradescant (father and son), as well as huge collections of archaeology specimens and fine art. It has one of the best collections of Pre-Raphaelite paintings, majolica pottery and English silver. The archaeology department includes the bequest of Arthur Evans and so has an excellent collection of Greek and Minoan pottery. The department also has an extensive collection of antiquities from Ancient Egypt and the Sudan, and the museum hosts the Griffith Institute for the advancement of Egyptology.
On 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.
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.
Highlights of the Ashmolean's collection include:
Keepers and Directors
Keeper From To
In popular culture
The Alfred Jewel was the inspiration for the Inspector Morse episode "The Wolvercote Tongue", in which the museum's interior was used as a set. The Ashmolean also figures prominently in several episodes of the successor series Lewis.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ashmolean Museum".
Oxford The Ashmolean Museum of Art & Archaeology, Oxfordshire UK - visitors: