The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in Oxford is Britain’s first public museum. It was founded in 1683, when the wealthy antiquary Elias Ashmole gifted his collection to the University of Oxford. Their world-famous collections range from Egyptian mummies to contemporary art and tell human stories across time and different cultures.
Though the collection has evolved in time, the founding principle remains the same: “The knowledge of humanity across cultures and across times is important to society”. It’s worth noting however that much of the collection was selected and obtained as a result of colonial power. The museum is aware of this fact and revises the interpretation of its collections regularly.
Wondering what to see when you visit the Ashmolean? Check our guide:
> Free Self-Guided Tour: Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum of Archaeology
Facts About the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford
Here are some facts about the Ashmolean you might not know of yet:
- The museum has 39 galleries, all connected through a time thread.
- There are over 1,000,000 objects on display in the Ashmolean museum!
- The building first opened its doors in 1683 as a ‘cabinet of curiosities. That’s 350 years ago.
- The Ashmolean’s coin collection has over 200,000 rare coins.
- The name comes from the antiquary who donated most of the initial objects, Elias Ashmole.
Bettany Hughes About the Ashmolean
This video, uploaded in 2012, shows “A day at the Ashmolean”. Available through the museum’s YouTube channel, it’s presented by historian and writer Bettany Hughes.
Visiting the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology
Admission to the museum is free, and if you join as a member, you have unlimited access to exhibitions, exclusive online events, members-only previews and curator-led events. The Museum is open every day, 10 am to 5 pm.
Address: Beaumont St, Oxford OX1 2PH
Phone: 01865 278000