The Ashmolean is first and foremost a University museum.

We are committed to making our collections and expertise accessible for academic engagement at Oxford and in partnership with universities worldwide. The Museum is a world-class resource to enrich all kinds of intellectual enquiry, and our curators' scholarship contributes to teaching throughout the Oxford curriculum. 


Ever since the Ashmolean opened in 1683, complete with an experimental laboratory in the basement, the museum's collections and keepers have played a vital role in the Oxford curriculum. Today, Ashmolean curators supervise doctoral research, convene seminars, give lectures, and teach classes and courses for the undergraduate and masters degrees.

In 2012, the Ashmolean University Engagement Programme, generously funded by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation, began to re-imagine the Ashmolean's potential as a resource for academic engagement at Oxford and beyond.

Since then, new classes, new courses and new cross-disciplinary partnerships have broadened the range of subjects regularly employing object-centred learning in the Museum to include, for example, Medieval and Modern Languages, Geography, History, Tibetan Studies, Mathematics, Anthropology, Medicine, Business and English Literature.

As well as enhancing the degree programmes of Oxford students, these collaborations also offer the chance for their teachers to engage more deeply with the products of material and visual culture and the Ashmolean has become a key centre for faculty members and early-career scholars to develop their skills in object-based teaching and learning.


Academic Engagement programmes at the Ashmolean are led by the Andrew W Mellon Teaching Curator, Dr Jim Harris.  Jim's background is as a historian of late-medieval and early-Renaissance sculpture but at the Ashmolean his remit is to put the entire range of the Museum's collections to work in the University.

Our Administration Assistant for Teaching, Penny Coombe, is the first port of call for faculty members wanting to explore the possibility of working with the Museum, as well as providing administrative support for all our academic engagement and teaching programmes across the museum.  Penny is an archaeologist, in the final stages of a DPhil on sculpture in the northern fringes of the Roman Empire.

Our Collections Assistant, who is responsible, amongst many other things, for preparing objects for classes, workshops and research visits is Jack Ord.  Jack came to the Academic Engagement team from the Paisley Museum in Scotland, where he worked on the collections decant ahead of their exciting refurbishment.
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