The Ashmolean is the University of Oxford’s museum of art and archaeology, founded in 1683. Our world famous collections range from Egyptian mummies to contemporary art, telling human stories across cultures and across time.

The Ashmolean’s collections are extraordinarily diverse, representing most of the world’s great civilisations, with objects dating from 500,000 BC to the present day. Among many riches we have 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, and the foremost collection of modern Chinese painting in the Western world.


To be in every way the world’s greatest university museum of art and archaeology

  • Constantly questioning what we do and challenging ourselves to do better
  • Being intellectually ambitious and coherent
  • Ensuring the encounter of our audiences with our collections (both in the museum and online) is as inspiring, meaningful and rewarding as possible
  • Being a powerhouse of teaching and research
  • Making the most of our university and encouraging our university to make the most of us


The Ashmolean Museum opened its doors in 1683 as Britain’s first public museum and the world’s first university museum.

Elias Ashmole founded the Museum and gave it as a gift to the University ‘because the knowledge of Nature is very necessary to human life and health’.

The original Ashmolean collection was largely based on objects Ashmole had acquired from the gardeners, travellers and collectors John Tradescant the elder and younger. It included treasures such as Guy Fawkes’s lantern, the mantle of Pocahontas’s father (Chief Powhatan) and the stuffed body of the last dodo ever seen in Europe. Read more about the Museum's history.


View a list of Ashmolean contacts, structured by department.


The Ashmolean is Oxford University’s museum of art and archaeology and makes up one of four University museums (along with the Museum of the History of Science, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum. These four museums form part of the group GLAM (Gardens, Libraries and Museums) together with the Bodleian Libraries and Botanic Gardens and Harcourt Arboretum

The Ashmolean Museum is overseen by the Board of Visitors, the Director and Senior Management


2017 was a remarkable year for the Ashmolean Museum. The 400th anniversary of the birth of our founder – Elias Ashmole – the year saw a spectacular new gallery to house the founding collections; a game-changing and award-winning Raphael exhibition; two exceptional acquisitions; record visitor numbers; huge public events; and much more.

Watch our video, below, to hear more about it. Subtitles are available by clicking on the captions icon when the video starts to play.