The Ashmolean is the oldest purpose-built public museum in the world, opening within the University of Oxford in 1683. Its historic collections are an integral part of our intellectual heritage, playing an important role in generating and supporting research for over 300 years. The collections and archives at the Ashmolean are a global resource comprising over 1 million objects and works of art covering almost the entire span of human history. The breadth and quality of the collections make the Museum one of the most valued art and archaeological resources for research and teaching in the UK and more widely. The Museum has 28 research-active curators who conduct their own research in areas related to the collection while also supporting the research of others and making the fruits of that research accessible to the widest possible public. With c.930,000 visitors a year the Ashmolean is the most visited University Museum in the world. Doing justice to the research significance of the Ashmolean’s collections is impossible in such short compass but among our world-leading holdings are the best collection of Minoan (Cretan) antiquities outside Greece; the most important Pre-Dynastic Egyptian collections outside Egypt; the earliest collection of Classical sculpture and inscriptions in Britain; exceptional collections of European Migration Period metalwork; one of the world’s finest assemblages of Western European drawings; the most comprehensive collection of early Worcester porcelain anywhere; the most select collection in existence of 16th -18thC European stringed instruments; the largest and most important collections of both greenware ceramics of the 3rd -11th centuries, and of 20th century Chinese paintings outside China; and one of the top ten coin collections in the world. The Museum also holds important archival and documentary material, including archives relevant to local archaeology for over a century and a half; the Sir John and Sir Arthur Evans Archives; the Kish (Iraq) excavation archives; the Pissarro Family Archive; papers belonging to two crucial Victorian scholar-collectors, C.D.E. Fortnum and J.C. Robinson; and the May Beattie Archive for the study of Islamic carpets.
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