Redesign enables expanded educational experience and display space
One of the world’s leading museums, the Ashmolean in Oxford, will reopen on Saturday 7 November 2009 having completed a multi-million pound redevelopment.
The new building, designed by award-winning Rick Mather Architects, will provide the Ashmolean with 100% more display space. Located to the north of Charles Cockerell’s original Museum built in 1845, it comprises 39 new galleries, including 4 temporary exhibition galleries, a new education centre, state-of-the-art conservation studios, and Oxford’s first rooftop restaurant The Ashmolean Dining Room. In the Cockerell Building, the newly refurbished galleries of Western Art will reopen after 10 months of closure.
The project has been funded with a £15 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Additional major support has been received from the Linbury Trust, along with numerous trusts, foundations and individuals.
Christopher Brown, Director of the Ashmolean, said: “From the outset, our ambition has been to create not just an improved and expanded version of Britain’s oldest public museum, but something significantly different in kind: a new way of showcasing the Ashmolean’s remarkable collections, for the benefit of the widest possible audience”.
Inside the new galleries, the Ashmolean presents a redisplay of the collections. The Museum’s curators have worked with leading design company Metaphor to create the innovative strategy Crossing Cultures Crossing Time, enabling visitors to discover how civilisations developed as part of an interrelated world culture.
Themed galleries on the lower ground floor explore the connections between objects and activities common to different cultures, such as money, reading and writing, and the representation of the human image. The floors above are arranged chronologically, charting the development of the ancient and modern worlds. Orientation galleries on each floor introduce the key themes, illuminating the many connections and comparisons which bring the past to life. Crossing Cultures Crossing Time will highlight the strengths of the Museum’s collections, and create a first-class educational environment seeking to awaken a lively interest in all visitors.
Nicholas Barber, Chairman of the Ashmolean, said: “Renowned for our collections, the Ashmolean has always held a strong position on the cultural map. But now, with a magnificent new building and inspiring displays, the Museum has been transformed into one of the world’s great cultural jewels.”