News item from 2011

Richard Briant / Arcaid

The Ashmolean Museum is one of the top twenty most popular free visitor attractions in England

On 17 August, VisitEngland announced that the Ashmolean Museum features in the top 20 free visitor attractions in England, along with the British Museum, Tate Modern, the National Gallery and Natural History Museum, in their 2010 Annual Visitor Attractions Survey. The Ashmolean has received the highest visitor numbers of all the free museums and galleries outside London.

Following a major £61million redevelopment, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Linbury Trust, the Ashmolean’s visitor figures have quadrupled. The new Museum, designed by award-winning Rick Mather Architects, opened to the public in November 2009 and attracted 1.2 million visitors within the first year.

The new building has doubled the previous display space to exhibit the Museum’s world-renowned collections. It comprises the innovative redisplay of the permanent collections in 35 new galleries, 4 new galleries for temporary exhibitions, a new Education Centre, state-of-the-art conservation studios, and Oxford’s first rooftop restaurant, The Ashmolean Dining Room.

With an exciting exhibitions programme the Ashmolean is now developing a reputation as one of the leading exhibition venues in the heart of England. The programme’s inaugural art exhibition THE PRE-RAPHAELITES AND ITALY (2010), and the current exhibition, HERACLES TO ALEXANDER THE GREAT, have been critically acclaimed by the media, attracting large audiences. Described as “The show of the summer” by the Sunday Telegraph, HERACLES TO ALEXANDER THE GREAT ends on 29 August.

Building on the Museum’s success, a second phase of redevelopment is underway to refurbish the Egyptian galleries. Opening on 26 November 2011, the new galleries will redisplay the collections from Ancient Egypt and Nubia, exhibiting objects that have been in storage for decades and more than doubling the number of mummies and coffins on display.

Dr Christopher Brown CBE, Director of the Ashmolean, said, “We are delighted with the results from VisitEngland’s survey which are a great testimony to the success of the Ashmolean’s ongoing transformation to meet the needs of the 21st century visitor. As Britain’s oldest public museum, our mission has always been to display the collections to the widest possible audience. With continued free admission and the exciting opening of the Ancient Egypt and Nubia galleries we are hoping that we will have more visitors in 2011”.

VisitEngland is the national tourist board for England, responsible for marketing England to domestic and established overseas markets and for improving England's tourism product.

To see the survey visit:  

The Ashmolean Museum
Founded in 1683, the Ashmolean Museum is the most significant museum of art and archaeology in the heart of Britain, and the finest university museum in the world. Its collections are large, rich and unusually diverse, ranging from archaeology to fine and decorative arts, and from numismatics to casts of classical sculpture from the great museums of Europe. The Ashmolean is home to the best collection of Predynastic Egyptian material in Europe; the only great collection of Minoan antiquities outside Greece; the largest and most important group of Raphael drawings in the world; the greatest Anglo-Saxon collections outside the British Museum; a world-renowned collection of coins and medals; and outstanding displays of Indian, Chinese, Japanese and Islamic art. The works and objects in these remarkable collections tell the story of civilisation and the aspirations of mankind from Nineveh and ancient Egypt, to the Renaissance, right up to the triumphs of twentieth century Europe.
Admission to the Museum is free.


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