Take a step away from the hustle and bustle of the city and savour the wonderful collections inside Britain's oldest ... More
Take a step away from the hustle and bustle of the city and savour the wonderful collections inside Britain's oldest public museum. John Tradescant's collection of archaeological rarities (both man-made and natural) originally opened to the public in South London in the early 17th Century, for a charge of 6d (2.5p). The collection was inherited by Elias Ashmole and the Ashmolean opened in 1683. If you only have time to enjoy the antiquities galleries, with their exhibits dating from Paleolithic to Victorian times, your visit will have been worthwhile. You'll probably have to come back again if you also want to take in the collections of eastern and western art and the Heberden Coin Room. If time is very limited, try joining one of the lunchtime talks, which are always interesting and accessible. Admission is free.
I loved the vision/ concept "A journey across cultures and across time" and this was partly what inspired me to make the visit from Sussex. I missed the "orientation galleries ... to provide story trails to be followed..." Where were these? I needed more guide posts on the journey. Better signage to the galleries and introductions, explanations to the galleries would have helped.
I loved the open staircase and glass bridges from which you could view the whole atrium. I thoroughly enjoyed the lunchtime lecture on ceramics. The lecturer clearly knew and loved every item on display and communicated this well.
There were some really great displays, I particularly enjoyed the display about the work of conservation and authentication in the gallery.
Having reviewed the excellent web site before going I was a little frustrated at how little of the total exhibits I was able to see before getting exhausted and running out of time. I had thought we could browse the museum and view our own highlights and spend time on what interested us most, but in reality it was hard to do this effectively.
There was also a lack of labels and descriptions in places. Even temporary summarised overviews would have helped until all the permanent labels could be finished.
I enjoyed the day, but I spent about 81/2 hours travelling for about 4hours viewing - I'm not sure if it was worth that. I would thoroughly recommend the museum to anyone living or staying in the Oxford area however. Plan to go several times if you live there abouts
NB the cafe was barely adequate, poor choice of food and slow service inspite of being quiet. The food we had was good however.
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