The Ashmolean is Oxford University’s Museum of Art and Archaeology. Opened in 1683, it is the oldest public museum in the UK.
The museum has incredibly rich and diverse collections from around the globe, ranging from Egyptian mummies and classical sculpture to the Pre Raphaelites and modern art.
Its many riches include the world’s greatest collection of Raphael drawings; the most important collection of Egyptian pre-Dynastic sculpture and ceramics outside Cairo; the only great Minoan collection in Britain; outstanding Anglo-Saxon treasures; the most famous violin in the world, Stradivari’s Messiah; and the foremost collection of modern Chinese painting in the Western world. Curiosities abound through the various collections, with notable objects including an Arab ceremonial dress belonging to Lawrence of Arabia, the lantern carried by Guy Fawkes during the 1605 Gunpowder Plot (part of the Ashmolean's original collection) and the death mask of Oliver Cromwell.
The John Sainsbury Exhibition Galleries, which opened in 2009, hosts a range of world-class temporary exhibitions. Recent shows have included Jeff Koons at the Ashmolean; Spellbound: Magic, Ritual & Witchcraft; America's Cool Modernism: O'Keeffe to Hopper; and Raphael: The Drawings.
Director: Dr Alexander Sturgis