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
- 1 March — 2 October 2016 *on now
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.
Apes and Monkeys in Asian Art
- 14 June — 30 October 2016 *on now
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 *on now
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.