News item from 2012

Ashmolean Receives An Award From The DCMS/Wolfson Foundation To Restore An Iconic Gallery in Britain's Oldest Museum

Situated on the ground floor of the historic Grade I listed Cockerell Building, to the left of the main door as visitors enter the Museum, the Randolph Sculpture Gallery has long been used for the display of Classical sculpture; its proportions and architecture making it a perfect setting.

At the end of the 19th century, a collection of casts was moved out of the Gallery to make way for the Arundel Collection. This group of Greek and Roman sculpture and inscriptions, formed in the 17th century by Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, is the earliest of its kind in Britain. Arundel was a great pioneer collector of works of art from classical antiquity, and the collection was assembled for him by agents active in Italy, Greece and the eastern Aegean. The collection is particularly important for the history of collecting in England and of taste.

Today it is widely used by artists and scholars as well as being enjoyed by members of the public. However, the Randolph Sculpture Gallery has never benefitted from proper exhibition lighting and, as the only remaining space in the Museum not to have been refurbished, its tired appearance is in stark contrast to the new galleries beyond.

Funding from the DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund will help the Ashmolean to bring the Randolph Sculpture Gallery back to its original glory, re-instating its position as an impressive, historical space within the Museum. The project will enable visitors to enjoy the space and to understand and appreciate the importance of the Arundel Collection. Work is due to start at the beginning of 2013. Relighting, redecoration, refinishing of the original Portland stone floor, and a return to Cockerell’s original colour scheme will create a pleasant space for visitors, and will minimize the visual and intellectual jarring which currently occurs as visitors move between this space and the galleries beyond. Moreover, the redisplay of the sculptures will bring the gallery in line with the Museum’s new display strategy, creating better links to the Ancient World Orientation gallery, as well as the adjoining Cyprus and Egypt galleries.

“We are extremely grateful to the DCMS / Wolfson Foundation whose generous grant will enable us to complete the refurbishment of the Ashmolean’s ground floor. At long last, visitors will be able to enjoy the Arundel Collection in a wider context and to understand the sculptures’ place in the larger narrative of world culture that runs throughout the Ashmolean Museum.”, Dr Christopher Brown CBE, Director of the Ashmolean.

The DCMS/Wolfson Fund
The DCMS/Wolfson Fund has distributed £47 million to 445 capital projects in eligible museums and galleries across England since 1990.The funding has been provided in equal shares by DCMS and the Wolfson Foundation.

The Wolfson Foundation is a charitable foundation set up in 1955. Grants are made for the advancement of science and medicine, health, education, the arts and humanities. As a general policy, funding is provided to back excellence, to act as a catalyst and to provide for promising future projects which may currently be underfunded. Last year the Foundation distributed some £40 million. For more information visit


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