Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum is the country’s oldest public museum and home to one of the most important collections of art and archaeology to be found anywhere.
The collections span the civilisations of east and west, charting the aspirations of humankind from the Neolithic era to the present day. Among its treasures are the world's largest collection of Raphael drawings, the most important collection of pre-Dynastic Egyptian material in Europe, the only great Minoan collection in Britain, the finest Anglo-Saxon collections outside the British Museum and the foremost collection of modern Chinese art in the Western world.
Museum, Gallery, Archive
Tues - Sun & Bank Holiday Mondays: 10.00-17.00
Closed: Every Mon & 24,25,26 Dec
Parking is available next to the Museum on St. Giles
The entire collection of the Ashmolean Museum is a Designated Collection of national importance.
The Ashmolean Museum was founded in 1683, the first institutional museum in Britain, and arguably in Europe. Notable among antiquities are the Egyptian collections, the Classical Greek collections including the ‘Arundel Marbles’ and the Felix Gem, and the Alfred Jewel. Paintings date from early Italian to Pre-Raphaelite and there are outstanding drawings by Raphael and Michelangelo. The arts of China, Japan, South East Asia and Islam are well represented, as are Maiolica, Renaissance bronzes and numismatics.
World Cultures, Fine Art, Decorative and Applied Art, Coins and Medals, Archaeology
Key artists and exhibits
- Designated Collection
Tasting China: Images of Food in Chinese Art
- 13 October 2015 — 14 February 2016 *on now
With images of various foods and related rituals and activities, this exhibition looks at representations of food within Chinese art.
From daily meals to celebration banquets, festive ceremonies to religious offerings, food is presented in many contexts.
- Family friendly
Architecture in Miniature
- 14 November 2015 — 15 May 2016 *on now
In this display the Oxford-inspired work of renowned architectural silversmith Vicki Ambery-Smith and ceramist Hugh Colvin are being shown together for the first time.
Vicki Ambery-Smith has earned an international reputation for her unique style of jewellery and silverware based on her interpretations of architecture. Growing up in Oxford provided her with inspiration that has developed over 35 years into a theme that draws on buildings as diverse as ancient Greece and contemporary Europe and America. This collection is a celebration of Oxford’s extraordinary buildings. She has recreated key Oxford landmarks in silver including a piece celebrating the 350th anniversary of the construction of The Sheldonian Theatre.
Hugh Colvin is a ceramist. Inspired by his father, the Oxford architectural historian Sir Howard Colvin, he started making architectural models in porcelain clay fired to stoneware temperatures (1200 deg C). His models are often based on the historic designs by Michelangelo, Gibbs, Hawksmoor, Langley, LeDoux and others. He prefers the imaginary and the unbuilt, the follies and the ruins, and has also made many fantasies to his own designs. Hugh Colvin will be exhibiting four ceramic architectural sculptures.
Pax Mongolica 1210–1350
- 5 January — 1 May 2016 *on now
Genghis Khan established the Mongol Empire in 1206. It rapidly expanded during the following decades, continuously invading new territories.
By the end of the 13th century, the vast Empire covered a large part of Eurasia, stretching from the Korean peninsula to Central Europe. These coins reflect the great diversity of peoples living under Mongolian rule and their different cultures.
- Family friendly
Andy Warhol: Works from the Hall Collection
- 4 February — 15 May 2016 *on now
This spring exhibition presents, for the first time in public, an important private collection of works by Andy Warhol (1928–1987).
Cultural icon, celebrity and provocateur, Warhol produced images which are instantly recognizable, but this exhibition, through the lens of a private collection, also reveals an unfamiliar side to the artist in his less well-known works.
The exhibition features over a hundred works from the Hall Collection (USA), plus loans of artist films from the Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh.
Curated by Sir Norman Rosenthal, the exhibition spans Warhol’s entire output from iconic pieces of the 1960s Pop pioneer to the experimental works of his last decade.
£11 Full Price with Donation for Gift Aid Purposes
£10 Concessions with Donation for Gift Aid Purposes
£10 Standard Full Price
£9 Standard Concessions
£5 12-17 years & Art Fund Members
- 1 March — 2 October 2016
Pure Land is the name for the realm of the Buddha and other deities depicted in paintings since the Tang dynasty (AD 618?906).
Pure Land Buddhism is particularly associated with the cave temples at Dunhuang in northwest China, near the eastern end of the Silk Route.
During China’s war with Japan in the 1940s, many artists took refuge in Sichuan province, and from there some journeyed to Dunhuang and painted copies of the famous cave temple murals. This display shows rare examples of their work alongside other images of popular deities, particularly Guanyin, in paintings, textiles and porcelain.
Elizabeth Price: The Contemporary Art Society Award
- 18 March — 15 May 2016
Elizabeth Price, winner of the 2013 Contemporary Art Society Award, has created a new work in response to the collections and archives of the Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers museums.
The new commission is a twenty minute, two-screen digital video which employs the museums’ photographic and graphic archives. It is a fiction, set to melody and percussion, which is narrated by a ‘chorus’ of museum administrators who are organising the records of Arthur Evans’s excavation of the Cretan city of Knossos.
The administrators use Evans’s extraordinary documents and photographs to figuratively reconstruct the Knossos Labyrinth within the museum’s computer server. They then imagine its involuted space as a virtual chamber through which museum objects digitally flow, clatter and cascade.
Apes and Monkeys in Asian Art
- 14 June — 30 October 2016
To celebrate the Year of the Monkey in 2016 this special display showcases images of adventurous and mischievous monkeys in works on paper from Iran to Japan.
The display features papercuts, woodblock prints and lithographs of monkeys in the wild, monkeys as gods, and scenes from the famous 16th-century Chinese novel Journey to the West.
Storms, War and Shipwrecks: Treasures from the Sicilian Seas
- 21 June — 25 September 2016
Storms, War and Shipwrecks tells the extraordinary story of the island at the crossroads of the Mediterranean through the discoveries made by underwater archaeologists.
For 2500 years, Sicily was the place where great ancient civilizations met and fought. Its rich and varied island culture has been marked by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Normans. This major summer exhibition explores the roots of this multi-cultural heritage through objects rescued from the bottom of the sea – from chance finds to excavated shipwrecks, from the pioneering Phoenician traders to the Emperors of Byzantium.
- 18 October 2016 — 26 February 2017
Liu Dan (b. 1953) is one of China’s leading artists, at the forefront of the generation of painters who have been working in radically new ways in the traditional medium of ink.
He is exceptional in combining themes current since the Song dynasty using his own techniques derived from 14th-century artists. His paintings are meticulous, and very often huge in scale. He is equally interested in Italian drawing of the 14th to 16th centuries as much as their Yuan and Ming dynasty contemporaries, and aspects of their work are subsumed in his.
The exhibition will include a landscape presented by Liu Dan to the Ashmolean in memory of the great historian of Chinese art, Professor Michael Sullivan (1916–2013).
Power and Protection: Islamic Art and the Supernatural
- 20 October 2016 — 15 January 2017
Showcasing over a hundred spectacular objects from Morocco to China, Power and Protection is the first major exhibition to explore the supernatural in the art of the Islamic world.
Within Islamic societies, people of all backgrounds have engaged in fascinating yet controversial practices such as the casting of horoscopes and interpretation of omens. The exhibition includes objects and works of art from the 12th to the 20th century which have been used as sources of guidance and protection in the dramatic events of human history. These include dream-books, talismanic charts and amulets.
This is an unmissable chance to see objects of breathtaking quality and astonishing scale, many of which have never been seen in public.
Family Fun: Curious Containers
- 13 September 2104 1-2pm
From cricket cages to puzzle jugs, discover some unusal containers and make a special box to take home.
- Family friendly