The Ashmolean Museum (in full the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology) on Beaumont Street, Oxford, England, is the world's first university museum. Its first building was built in 1678–1683 to house the cabinet of curiosities Elias Ashmole gave Oxford University in 1677.
The interior of the Ashmolean has been extensively modernised in recent years and now includes a restaurant and large gift shop. The Sackler Library, incorporating the older library collections of the Ashmolean, opened in 2001 and has allowed an expansion of the book collection, which concentrates on classical civilization, archaeology and art history.
Between 2006 and 2009, the museum was extensively rebuilt and expanded to the designs of architect Rick Mather and the exhibition design company Metaphor, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The rebuilding resulted in five floors instead of three, with a doubling of the display space as well as new conservation studios and an education centre. The renovated museum re-opened on 7th November 2009.
Highlights of the Ashmolean's collection include:
1.The Alfred Jewel
2.Drawings by Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci
3.Watercolours and paintings by Turner
4.Paintings by Paolo Uccello, Piero di Cosimo, John Constable, Claude Lorraine, and Pablo Picasso
5.Arab ceremonial dress owned by Lawrence of Arabia
6.A death mask of Oliver Cromwell
7.The collection of Posie rings that supposedly inspired the One Ring in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings
8.The Parian Marble, the earliest extant example of a Greek chronological table
9.The ceremonial cloak of Chief Powhatan
10.The lantern that Gunpowder Plot conspiracist Guy Fawkes carried in 1605
11.The Messiah Stradivarius, a violin made by Antonio Stradivari
12.The Minoan collection of Arthur Evans, the biggest outside Crete
13.The Narmer Macehead and Scorpion Macehead