2 december 2009

Queen officially opens new Ashmolean Museum

Arts | University

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Her Majesty The Queen has officially opened the new Ashmolean Museum today (Wednesday 2 December 2009).

The Ashmolean re-opened to the public on 7 November, following a major multi-million pound redevelopment. The new building, designed by award-winning Rick Mather Architects, has been universally acclaimed by both the international media and members of the public. On its opening weekend it attracted 22,000 visitors and is currently averaging 6,000 visitors a day.

Christopher Brown, Director of the Ashmolean, said, 'We are delighted to have shown Her Majesty the new galleries and introduced her to our supporters who have made this remarkable redevelopment possible, and to the staff, contractors, designers and architects who have helped to build the new Museum.

Photo of Queen arriving at official opening of Ashmolean Museum

'Her Majesty’s visit is a great honour for us and a historical moment for Oxford. It not only marks the success of the transformed Ashmolean, Britain’s first public Museum, but it celebrates the opening of our new doors to the widest audience, now and in the future.'

Her Majesty visited a number of the galleries before seeing conservators at work in the new Conservation Studio and visited the rooftop restaurant. She stopped to talk to school children in the Education Centre before unveiling a plaque to commemorate the official opening. 

As a department of the University of Oxford, education lies at the heart of the Ashmolean. Its purpose is to serve as a resource for scholars and to awaken a lively interest in material culture from across the globe in visitors of all backgrounds and ages.

Lord Patten of Barnes, Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said, 'On 18 November, the University’s museums, libraries and archives were awarded The Queen's Anniversary Prize in recognition of their outstanding quality and their high public benefit. The Ashmolean’s official opening is a tribute to the integral role these world-class collections have in supporting teaching and research, and in providing great museums and educational resources, free to all visitors.'

We are delighted to have shown Her Majesty the new galleries.

Christopher Brown

The new Museum provides the Ashmolean with 100% more display space. 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.

Inside the new galleries, the Ashmolean has been able to display its collections in new ways. The Museum’s curators have worked with leading specialist 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. The objects’ stories are told by tracing the journey of ideas and influences through time and across continents, transforming the way the Ashmolean’s rare and beautiful objects are understood.

The £61 million 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.

Queen looks at dress in Ashmolean with head of conservation