Oxford's finest museums; the Ashmolean Museum

Oxford's finest museums; the Ashmolean Museum

2 minutes to read

Among the many wonderful museums in Oxford, the one I mostly visited while there, is the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, right on Beaumont Street. I had many fond memories at the museum, as not only did I go there as an art history student, but also as a volunteer for various occasions.

A day at the Ashmolean Museum:

The museum's history

Photo credits © Sarah Casey
Photo credits © Sarah Casey

Originally, the Ashmolean Museum was built to house Elias Ashmole's collection of curiosities, in 1683, on Broad Street. In 1894, the museum was moved to Beaumont Street in a classical style building, designed by Charles Cockerell. Some of the highlights of the museum are Uccello's "The Hunt in the Forest" (c. 1465–1470), Piero di Cosimo's "The Forest Fire" (c. 1505), Camille Pissarro's "View from my Window" (1886-88) and Namikawa Yasuyuki's "Vase with waterfall over rocks" (1910-15). What is most appealing to me is the spaces dedicated to Asian art, which thus create a meeting point for the East and the West.

My favorites

Photo credit © Vy Dan Tran
Photo credit © Vy Dan Tran

My most favorite room in the museum is the room dedicated to the 17th-century Dutch and Flemish still-life paintings, as my dissertation was on the representation of food in some of those works. This genre was generally overlooked, but in fact, the still-life paintings were well-executed and thought-provoking. I remember staying in the room for hours to look at the paintings and take notes. It was especially enjoyable when there was no other visitor around. The "still-life painting room" was truly a hidden gem of the museum. 

Photo credit © Vy Dan Tran
Photo credit © Vy Dan Tran

Another painting that really fascinates me is "High Street" by William Turner (1775–1851). In a realistic manner, Turner depicted High Street in the center of Oxford, the street on which I used to walk regularly. Although the painting was executed 209 years ago, High Street today doesn't look so different from what Turner saw back then. 

Every time I mention the Ashmolean Museum, I feel quite nostalgic about my student days in Oxford. The Ashmolean Museum is definitely worth a visit for its wonderful staff, beautiful architecture and art treasures. Plus, like many other public museums in the UK, you do not have to pay for an entrance fee. You only have to buy tickets to see temporary exhibitions. 

If you are planning a trip to Oxford, also have a look at the following articles: "The City of Dreaming Spires" by Joe Thorpe and "Bluebell woods in Oxford" by me.

Ashmolean Museum
Ashmolean Museum
Beaumont St, OX1 2 Oxford, Oxfordshire

Fun fact: While studying Film Studies at Oxford Brookes University, I had a chance to contribute to the making of the short series Made in Mount Olympus (2015). The series was set at the Ashmolean Museum. Check out the first episode here. 

Cover photo credit:  © Lewis Clarke / Oxford : Ashmolean Museum / CC BY-SA 2.0

The author

Vy Tran

Vy Tran

Vy grew up in Hanoi but defines herself as a global citizen. She loves Dutch Golden Age paintings, dining at Michelin restaurants, watching warm sunsets and Italy, where she would be willing to spend her life.

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