Tour Locations | Know your Oxford: tour with AR for new and prospective students
Ok, the main gate to the Ashmolean Museum is here on your left. Here's someone who can tell you about the Ashmolean. You can go up and up have a look while you're listening.
E: Hello everyone, I’m Elizabeth Coyle, I’m a classics student at St. John’s College and you are standing outside the Ashmolean museum which is quite possibly the first public museum in Europe.
So, the Ashmolean museum was founded in 1683. It was built to house the collection of Elias Ashmole who was an antiquary, politician, astrologer and also a student of alchemy. So he donated his collection to the university on condition that a suitable home be built for it and that it be made open to the public which it has been over since. Elias himself was a student of the university and his collection, which has been added to by numerous donations over time, is now an integral part of the university itself.
Here you have a world-class museum where you can see and feel what you read about in books. If you’re lucky, you get to have object-handling sessions where you go behind the scenes with some of the curators to learn more about the function and meaning of objects and how these interact with issues of belief, aesthetic and social expectations.
If you tap on the button at the bottom left of your map here, there’s a 3D animation of an item from the museum that you can place on any flat surface. Just look through your device’s camera and then tap on the guides that appear when you’ve lined things up correctly.
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The item is a marriage casket that was basically an elaborate bridal gift box. It’s from the Embriachi family’s celebrated ivory-carving workshops in Florence and Venice and it’s roughly 600 years old.
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If you look closely, you’ll see scenes from the mythological Judgement of Paris around the base of the casket. The figures on each of the lid’s panels are the seven virtues – and there’s an eighth of two guards placed protectively over the keyhole.
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Here’s Elizabeth Coyle again:
E: Another great event in the lives of students here at the Ashmolean is their live Friday events. These are evenings when the museum is open late and there will be readings, interviews, installations, interviews and performances all around a certain theme. Recently I went to a great one all about fear and gothic literature and it was very, very spooky.
I would really recommend a visit to the Ashmolean either now or later. If you want to go in now, admission is free. And if you’re a student with a Bod card, you can also get into the exhibitions free.
AB: A Bod Card is the student ID Card and it gets you access to libraries, exhibitions, gives you discounts in certain shops and all kinds of other good stuff. You should definitely check out some of Oxford’s other museums. There’s also the Museum of the History of Science, the Natural History museum, and loads more. You may even go to the museums as part of your course – whether you study arts or sciences. I once had a Victorian literature class in the Natural History Museum!
When you’re ready, go back out of the gates and onto the pavement. Turn left when you get there and continue walking.