Ashmolean Museum

Founded in 1683, at a time when the idea of the 'museum' was brand new, Britain's first public museum, the Ashmolean, was initially the home of a collection of miscellaneous manmade and natural specimens and curiosities from every corner of the world, which was presented to the University by the wealthy antiquarian and polymath, Elias Ashmole.

The neoclassical architecture of the museum dates back to 1845, when it was built to house the University's art collection. The archaeological collections were moved into the building in the 1890s to form what is, today, the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology – one of the most important museums of art and archaeology in Britain.

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.


Exhibitions and events

Aksum: A Late Antique Empire of Faith in Africa

Event until 14.01.2018 0:00

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...

Old Traditions, New Visions: Art in India and Pakistan After 1947

Event until 18.03.2018 0:00

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...

Contemporary Japanese Tea Wares

Event until 31.01.2018 0:00

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,...

Imagining the Divine: Art and the Rise of World Religions

Event until 18.02.2018 0:00

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...

Qu Leilei: A Chinese Artist in Britain

Event until 15.04.2018 0:00

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...

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