Crossing Cultures: Transforming the Ashmolean Museum
“The first institution ever called a “museum” has been given a new, extraordinarily inventive interpretation as part of the major refurbishment and re-conceptualisation of the museum. In keeping with its scientific heritage, it turned to its users and their way of reading documents of the past, making knowledge speak the language of life. The new quality in architecture, design and communication has received considerable support and resulted in the tripling of the number of visitors. While remaining free of charge, it has significantly increased its commercial income, accounting for a quarter of its budget. This new strategy has raised the Ashmolean to the forefront of its profession.”
The Ashmolean Museum is the University of Oxford’s museum of art and archaeology. Founded in 1683, it is the oldest museum in Britain and home to one the finest collections in the country. For much of the last decade, it has undertaken an innovative redevelopment project that is aimed at reinvigorating the museum and providing the public with a learning resource unrivalled in the country. The main phase of the project was completed in November 2009, when the museum reopened following a complete transformation, both architecturally and in the display and presentation of its collections.
Its new display strategy, Crossing Cultures, provides the museum with an innovative approach to presenting history, by emphasizing the importance of cultural contacts. This approach is new to the museum world and provides visitors with a unique thought-provoking and awareness-raising narrative.