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 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.
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.
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
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