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
Old Traditions, New Visions: Art in India and Pakistan After 1947
- 1 September 2017 — 18 March 2018 *on now
After the political freedom gained in 1947, Indian and Pakistani artists faced a significant challenge to express the new nations’ distinctive character and visions. Artists sought new modes of expression, engaging with the modern European art movements but remaining oriented toward their own traditions.
- Family friendly
Aksum: A Late Antique Empire of Faith in Africa
- 1 September 2017 — 14 January 2018 *on now
Complementary to Imagining the Divine: Art and the Rise of World Religions, this display features coins of Aksum, the earliest Christian empire in Africa (Ethiopia), emitted from the late 3rd century to c. 620. The exhibition will focus on the chronology of the kings of Aksum, which show their progression from a pagan past to Christianity and highlight elements of early Christian iconography and kingship on the coins.
Contemporary Japanese Tea Wares
- 1 October 2017 — 31 January 2018 *on now
The preparation of tea in a formal 'ceremony' has been practiced in Japan since the 1400s. This display is one of several events organised at the Ashmolean for the international Arethé Festival, which spotlights the arts of Japanese tea today.
- Family friendly
Imagining the Divine: Art and the Rise of World Religions
- 19 October 2017 — 18 February 2018 *on now
Between 1–1000 AD, systems of belief developed across Europe and Asia. The images associated with them were forged not in isolation but in a vibrant exchange of ideas and in the contact between different societies and local traditions. One of the earliest known depictions of Christ shows a young man bearing a striking resemblance to a classical god, not the bearded holy-man we know today. Before the invention of the cross-legged figure in meditation, the Buddhist faithful were inspired to worship merely by an impression of the Buddha’s footprints.
This unprecedented exhibition showcases some of the world’s oldest religious art from India to Ireland, and reveals how the exchange of ideas and objects in the first millennium influence our thinking about the Divine today. On display will be the first known depiction of Christ north of the Alps, as well as some of the first surviving Qurans.
- Family friendly
£11, £10 concession. Entry is FREE for children under 12 years, University of Oxford students and Members of the Ashmolean.
Qu Leilei: A Chinese Artist in Britain
- 7 November 2017 — 15 April 2018 *on now
Contemporary Chinese artist Qu Leilei (b. 1951), now based in London, was a founding member of the avant-garde ‘Stars Group’ in the late 1970s, and immigrated to England in 1985. This exhibition shows his progression from calligraphic collage to an exploration of a new vocabulary of ink language blending lively brushwork with western technique.
Qu Leilei was born in 1951 in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, China, and like many other Chinese artists received training in painting and calligraphy at an early age. He started his career as a founding member of the famous ‘Stars group’ in China but it was while living in Britain that Qu Leilei has formed his unique style of ink painting. The exposure to Western art, especially classical sculpture and Italian Renaissance painting, intensified his quest for perfection of naturalistic image of bodily beauty in art. His love of beauty for its own sake, and his long and careful studies of the anatomy and Renaissance old masters, have led to large and impressive life-like figure paintings which are the primary focus of the exhibition.
The display features a variety of images ranging from small sketches of life drawing to larger highly refined figural paintings created from 1985 to the present, showing Qu Leilei's progression from calligraphic collage to an exploration of a new vocabulary of ink language. His confident use of brush and ink, allows him to blend western techniques with oriental aesthetics. Most of the works on display are drawn from the Ashmolean’s own collection with additional works on loan from the artist.
We are most grateful for the generous support of the Jiangsu Art Reproduction & Culture Development Co Ltd, China.
Downstairs in the Cast Gallery Tour
- 23 November 2017 2-2:45pm *on now
- 25 November 2017 2-2:45pm
- 30 November 2017 2-2:45pm
Tours of the Cast Gallery take place 2–2.45pm every Thursday and Saturday.
Tours are free. Places are limited (maximum 12) and are allocated on a first-come/first-served basis. Meet in Gallery 21 on the Ground Floor.
Access: regrettably, due to the layout of the historic building, the lower-ground floor of the Cast Gallery is only accessible by stairs.
- Family friendly
Places are limited (maximum 12) and are allocated on a first-come/first-served basis