Department of Antiquities



Temporary closure of Department of Antiquities Archive Collections until Aug 2017

The archive collections held by the Department of Antiquities will be closed from the end of Michaelmas term 2016 until the opening of the new 'Ashmole’s Museum' gallery in August 2017. This exceptional measure will enable staff resources to be temporarily reallocated to the development of the new gallery, which focuses on Elias Ashmole and the founding of the Ashmolean in the late 17th century.

There will, unfortunately, be no access to the archive collections during the period of closure, and we will be unable to respond to enquiries until the collection reopens. The Department of Antiquities will, however, attempt to facilitate all research requests and enquiries as soon as possible after the gallery opens.

We recognise the international importance of these archives and sincerely apologise for any inconvenience, but must ask for your patience during this very busy time for the Department.

Special access to/enquiries about the Medieval Archaeology Collections (cAD400 - 1800)

There will be limited access to the medieval archaeology collections, and a delay in answering related enquiries from the beginning of Hilary term 2017 to Trinity term 2017 due to the development of a new permanent gallery, 'Ashmole's Museum'. This new gallery will focus on Elias Ashmole and the founding of the Ashmolean in the late 17th century, and is due to open in August 2017.

The permanent gallery 'England 400 - 1600' will remain open and unaffected, and the Department of Antiquities will attempt to facilitate all research requests and enquiries as soon as possible.

We recognise the international importance of this collection, and sincerely apologise for any inconvenience, but ask for your patience during this very busy time for the Department."

Identification Service

An identification service for coins and archaeological objects is held on the first Wednesday of each month from 12 – 3pm, in the ‘Exploring the Past’ gallery on the Lower Ground Floor (Gallery 1 on the map). We will aim to identify all archaeological objects and coins brought to the service, but regret that we cannot take items in, or provide either valuation or authentication of objects. Further information is available on the Ashmolean Identification Service web page.

Von Bothmer Study Room, Floor 3

The Von Bothmer Study Room is available for research visits and University teaching by appointment Tuesday to Friday from 10:00–13:00, and 14:00–16:30 when the Museum is open.

Appointments to consult Department of Antiquities’ collections in the Study Room are available on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis. In order to make an appointment please contact the Department of Antiquities Administrator as far as possible in advance and provide details about your research, the purpose of the booking, a detailed list of the material you wish to consult, with inventory numbers where possible, and two or three possible dates for your visit. Please email ( or post your request. It is not possible to make bookings by telephone.

Visitors who are not known personally to a member of the curatorial staff of the museum should also provide a letter of introduction or reference from their academic supervisor or other qualified person. Visitors examining objects are supervised at all times. Closed circuit television, with video recording, is also in use at all times

At present, visitors are asked to book appointments a minimum of four to six weeks in advance of a proposed visit as a majority of material is stored off-site. There are a limited number of working spaces in the Study Room (4-6) and all individuals in a group should book separately. Additional researchers unnamed in the booking will not be admitted.

A maximum of 20 objects or 5 archive volumes/albums can be issued to each visitor per day. The size and difficulty of moving objects may reduce the number that can be provided

We are unable to accommodate requests for visits intended solely to photograph objects or archival material. The museum’s Photographic Service can undertake public orders for such work. Please contact the Picture Library for information.

Permission to take photographic record images during the course of research can be granted at the discretion of the relevant curator. Permission should be arranged in advance as it may not be possible to authorise on the day. The Ashmolean Museum retains copyright of all images, and permission is needed for any form of publication or non-research use. Download a copy of the photographic permit.

Please note that all objects and documents will be checked and returned to store from 12.50 and 16.20 onwards in order that the Study Room can close on time.

Please read the Study Room regulations before visiting.

There are additional regulations for consulting archival materials.

Off-Site Store

With some exceptions, Department of Antiquities objects that are not on display or reserved for teaching remain in off-site storage where they were housed during the museum’s recent redevelopment. All of the department’s archive collections also remain packed and in off-site storage. There is no access to the off-site store for members of the public.

Research Projects

Researchers applying for external grant funding to work with Department of Antiquities’ collections are strongly advised to discuss the project with the Department and to obtain all necessary permissions before they make their application.

Researchers with existing research projects who wish to work with Department of Antiquities’ collections should contact the Department as soon as the need is identified.

The Museum aims to make every effort to accommodate the needs of research projects; however, there are practical constraints of space, time and staff resources. Ideally, researchers should contact the department to discuss their needs well in advance of the start of any project.

University Teaching

Departmental curators can either hold teaching sessions for University classes, or can assist University Lecturers in selecting material for their own teaching or handling sessions. All teaching sessions involving objects are supervised at all times by Museum staff.

The Ashmolean welcomes University teaching from the collections, and the Von Bother Study Room adjoins a collections store in order to facilitate such activity. University lecturers should contact the Head of Department and relevant curator(s) to discuss their needs as far in advance as possible to ensure that the Study Room and appropriate material is available.