News item from 2010

Eastern Art Online

Ashmolean Museum Launches Major Online Resource - Eastern Art Online: Yousef Jameel Centre For Islamic and Asian Art

The Online Centre will provide global access to the University of Oxford's Islamic and Asian Art collections held at the Ashmolean Museum.  The collections span the Islamic Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, China, Japan and Korea, and comprise a wide range of media, including ceramics, textiles, sculpture, metalwork, paintings, and prints.

The Centre ( will initially focus on the objects and themes featured in the Ashmolean’s new galleries for the Islamic and Asian Collections, with over 1,400 of the Museum’s great treasures of Eastern Art accessible online at launch. This resource will be an invaluable tool for historians and students for research purposes, for craftsmen and designers seeking inspiration, and for an interested and curious public all over the world.

The project began in July 2007 with the support of the philanthropist of the arts and education, Yousef Jameel Hon. LHD. To digitise this extensive collection, over 11,000 objects have been photographed to date, to provide high quality, zoomable images of objects online. There is an ongoing programme to update and publish all these objects on the web, making this area of the Museum’s collection available online for the first time. Future plans now in development include a Study Centre for the Museum’s reserve collections of Asian art, comprising three study rooms, along with a number of scholarships for students studying in related areas at the University of Oxford.

According to Mr Jameel, “Knowledge should be accessible to everyone, everywhere, at any time. The Online Centre for Islamic and Asian Art will be a major step towards achieving this goal. I envisage the Centre as the hub of a future worldwide network exploring how different cultures learnt from each other and enriched peoples’ lives as a result.”

This project is part of the Ashmolean’s ambitious redevelopment to open up the collections of art and
archaeology to the widest possible audience. In November 2009, the Museum reopened to the public
following a major redevelopment. The new building has doubled the display space, providing the Ashmolean with 39 new galleries. The new display approach CROSSING CULTURES CROSSING TIME is presented over five floors throughout the Museum, revealing how the civilizations of the east and west developed as part of an interrelated world culture. Objects’ stories are told by tracing the journey of ideas and influences through time and across continents.

The Director of the Ashmolean, Christopher Brown said, “We are extremely grateful to Mr. Jameel for his
generous gift. His support will enable the Ashmolean to present the art of the Islamic and Asian world to a wider audience than ever before. Reflecting the methodology of CROSSING CULTURES CROSSING TIME, THE YOUSEF JAMEEL CENTRE FOR ISLAMIC AND ASIAN ART will explore the artistic cultures of Asia collectively. By examining their similarities and differences the online visitor will learn that art from the Islamic world coexists with the other great Asian artistic traditions, from India to Japan.”

Yousef Jameel Hon. LHD
Yousef Jameel Hon. LHD is a devoted philanthropist of education. After decades of leading a group of major enterprises to international success, he recently decided to shift his attention to sponsoring education, scientific research and the arts in a comprehensive scheme. Today he supports over 200 postgraduate students in the fields of science and business, as well as major cultural projects.

The Ashmolean’s collections from Asia and the Islamic world
The Eastern Art collections at the Ashmolean comprise around 30,000 objects including ceramics, textiles, sculpture, metalwork, paintings, prints, and other decorative arts. Predominantly from Asia and the Middle East, the collections span over 5,000 years of cultural and artistic development. Particular highlights include the Ashmolean’s early Chinese ceramics; a growing collection of contemporary Chinese painting, unrivalled in any European museum; the collection of Japanese export porcelain; and Indian, Tibetan and Southeast Asian collections of international importance.

Works of art from the Islamic world number well over 4,000 objects, including a large and important collection of Islamic ceramics from the different countries of the Middle East dating from the 8th-19th centuries. These are complemented by extensive archaeological material from Islamic Syria, Iraq and Iran.

The Newberry Collection includes over 1000 embroidery fragments from Islamic Egypt, which are unique in both their number and their variety. They are the largest collection of medieval Islamic embroideries in any public museum, and are of the greatest importance for the history of embroidery, as well as for the evidence of the impact of Mamluk taste on Renaissance Europe. In addition, the Newberry Collection contains over 1200 printed cotton fragments, exported from Gujarat in Western India and discovered in Fustat in Egypt.

The New Ashmolean
The Ashmolean has been transformed into a museum for the 21st century. The new building, designed by award-winning Rick Mather Architects, 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 The Ashmolean Dining Room. The 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.

Oxford Thinking: The Campaign for the University of Oxford
The Ashmolean Museum is one of a number of major building projects that form "Oxford Thinking: The Campaign for the University of Oxford", along with the other major themes of support for students and support for academic posts and programmes. The Campaign was launched in May 2008 with a minimum goal of £1.25 billion and is the largest fundraising Campaign in European university history. The current Campaign total is £770 million.


Related Links

Go to Top of Page