£15m Grant Gives Go-Ahead For Ashmolean Redevelopment

By Graham Spicer | 04 October 2005
Shows an architectural drawing of the Ashmolean museum with its planned redevelopment

The development plans for Britain's oldest museum. © Rick Mather Architects

Britain’s oldest museum has secured a £15 million lottery grant that will help it expand its display space and create new facilities.

The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford was founded in 1683 and is among the country's most important museums of art and archaeology. Its redevelopment project will create 100 per cent more display space plus a dedicated education centre and a state-of-the-art conservation area.

New teaching rooms and study centres will be created and the existing Greek and Roman displays, which are currently separated, will be combined in one site.

“This award is a splendid launching pad for our ongoing fundraising campaign to provide a world-class museum to match our world-class collections,” said Dr Christopher Brown, Director of the Ashmolean.

Shows an architectural drawing of the inside of the Ashmolean museum with its planned redevelopment

The £15 million grant will help to create 100 per cent more display space and new educational and conservation facilities. © Rick Mather Architects

The funding was earmarked for the museum in July 2004 when it was awarded a ‘stage one pass’ from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This gave the Ashmolean the positive support it required to work on a further, fully developed application, which went on to secure its ‘stage two pass’ and the full grant.

Oxford City Council gave planning permission to the development in August 2004, and the total project will cost £50 million, much of which has been raised from the support of several trusts, foundations and individuals.

The museum received 385,000 visitors in 2004 and hopes that the redevelopment will encourage even more interest from the public. Its collections are designated of national importance and include items ranging from early Egyptian artefacts to those from the Italian Renaissance and 20th century Europe.

Shows a photo of the classical facade of the Ashmolean Museum.

Founded in 1683, the Ashmolean is Britain's oldest museum, with important collections from ancient Egypt, Minoan Crete and Renaissance Italy. © Ashmolean Museum.

The museum houses the largest and most important collection of Raphael drawings in the world and the only significant display of Minoan objects outside Heraklion in Crete. It is also a major teaching and research department of the University of Oxford.

“The Ashmolean’s plans to redevelop its galleries are extremely imaginative,” added Carol Souter, Director of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“We’re delighted to be able to help the museum in its vision to open up the collections to a much wider audience, ensuring that as many people as possible can enjoy this important part of our rich and varied heritage.”

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