Ashmolean Museum

Welcome to the Ashmolean!

The Ashmolean was founded in 1683 after Elias Ashmole gifted his collection of botanical, geological, zoological and man-made items to the University; it was the world’s first University Museum. After the Museum of Natural History opened down the road in 1860, many of the Ashmolean specimens moved there. In 1884 Sir Arthur Evans (an archaeologist) took over as keeper of the Ashmolean. During his 24-year keepership he acquired many archaeological pieces, building a collection of international importance. In 1908 the Museum combined with the University art Galleries (situated next door) to form the Ashmolean museum of art and archaeology, in the site it still occupies today. The Museum was refurbished in 2009 to its current multi-acclaimed status. You can visit the Museum website here:

A virtual visit

Use the resources below to tour around the Museum – first take a look at some of the Museum treasures, which have been chosen by the Museum curators. Then tour the Museum floors to see if you can find where these treasures are located. Particularly, look out for the Mummy of Meresamun, and the Watlington Hoard which was discovered in 2015.

Oxford in the Civil War

Discover how the Ashmolean museum’s collections relate to the history of Oxford in the civil war. Visit the Civil War Tour website here and click ‘Online tour’. This tour will introduce you to the English civil war which took place in the early 1640’s and outline the role Oxford played when it was briefly the capital of England.

This tour says it takes two hours if walking around Oxford, but you can do the tour online. You can see the locations around Oxford on the interactive map, and you can click on the right-hand bar to read supporting information and watch the videos for each historical artefact! After reading the information, and watching the video, answer the ‘Quiz’ question for each item.

Related videos

Oxford Sparks create short (2-3 minute) animations which talk about science research questions. Unlike during the civil war in the 1640s, we now have many technologies that allow us to access a wealth of information about extreme events. The video below examines how we can use maths to examine online citizen behaviour and see people’s responses to extreme events. The video is provided as a link, with the science subjects most relevant to it in brackets.

The Royal Society is the independent scientific academy of the UK. They offer research grants to many UK scientists, and promote excellence in science research and learning. They host an annual exhibition called ‘Summer Science’, and this year this exhibition was hosted digitally. You may be interested in looking at their programme here.

Much of the history studied by the Ashmolean Museum has been influenced by how people think. Two of The Royal Society’s Summer School videos, related to the science of how we think, are shown below. First, learn about the secret mind of pets, and then consider the social and environmental factors that might prompt an athlete to cheat. 

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