Issued: 17:15, 10 July 2019


The Ashmolean is thrilled to announce that its 2017 exhibition, Raphael: The Drawings, is one of the winners of Oxford University's annual Vice-Chancellor's Public Engagement with Research Awards.

Raphael: The Drawings was a ground-breaking two-year research project which was showcased in the major exhibition held at the Ashmolean from June September 2017.  The exhibition attracted 67,000 visitors.  Audience evaluation showed that 82% of respondents felt their understanding of drawing had changed; while an astonishing 99.9% felt that their views on Raphael had been changed by the exhibition.  Feedback from one visitor was especially moving:

"We moved to Oxford in 2017 when I was five months pregnant.  When our son was born we named him...Raphael!  The Ashmolean's work on this exhibition had a deep impact on me and will have a life-long effect on the small chap!"

The project was led by Professor Catherine Whistler, Head of Western Art at the Ashmolean with Dr Ben Thomas, University of Kent; and Angelamaria Aceto, Ashmolean Museum.  Their work brought together 120 drawings from international collections for the exhibition, grouped into thematic strands which interrogated Raphael's impulses and uses for drawing: as a vehicle for creativity and experimentation; a means of working out his ideas and expressing himself; and as a way of engaging and affecting the viewer.  The exhibition was accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue; a short film; and a programme of public events, tours and talks.

Professor Catherine Whistler says: 'This project aimed to transform our understanding of how Raphael drew.  He has long been characterised as purely pragmatic and utilitarian in his drawing practice.  Modern audiences tend to perceive his art as idealised and even irrelevant.  But in bringing together so many of his works and employing an innovative, multi-disciplinary approach, we have been able to make a radical reassessment of this canonical artist.'

Professor Alison Woollard, Academic Champion for Public Engagement with Research, University of Oxford, says: 'These awards highlight the many ways that Oxford's researchers engage with the public.  This includes informing and empowering people by sharing research findings; working in partnership with communities to shape research and enabling citizens to take part in the research by collecting and analysing data through Citizen Science.  These winning projects also demonstrate that excellence in engagement results in a 'win-win' for both researchers and publics alike.'



Luke Caunt, Communications Officer, Research Services, University of Oxford | T+44 (0)1865 280 113

Claire Parris, Press Officer, Ashmolean Museum | T+44 (0)1865 278 178 | M+44 (0)7833 384 512 | @AshmoleanPress



The Vice-Chancellor's Public Engagement with Research Awards recognise and reward those at the University who undertake high-quality engagement activities and have contributed to building capacity in this area. The awards are in three categories – Early Career Researcher, Building Capacity and Projects.  

Winning entries receive recognition for their achievements at the Vice-Chancellor's Public Engagement with Research Awards Ceremony.  The 2019 ceremony took place at Keble College on the evening of 10 July, hosted by Vice-Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson.


Further information about the exhibition, Raphael: The Drawings, is available here.