The one thing the Ashmolean really shouts about -despite all the really amazing stuff inside- is that it is Britain’s oldest museum, pre-dating the British Museum by over 100 years. The Ashmolean has it’s roots in the Musaeum Tradescantianum which you might remember from the Garden Museum Adventure. Interestingly the building that is currently known as the Ashmolean though, only dates back to 1908. It looks like we have a bit of a Theseus’ Ship complex going on…
Anyways, on with the Adventure!
The Ashmolean was the first stop on our mini-break to Oxford. It was the natural choice really, I feel comfortable with the collection as it covers similar ground to the good ol’ British Museum. What really struck me was that the Ashmolean took the time to tell the stories of the people behind the collections; the Archaeologists and Adventurers who uncovered the treasures we see today. I smiled at seeing a mention of Francis Llewellyn Griffith a local Brighton connection, in the Egyptian room. The Egyptian galleries also contained my favourite object in the Ashmolean Museum: a statue of the Egyptian god Min.
Fakes in Museums?
“Do you see that golden mask in the corner?” I asked Will as we wandered around the Greek galleries, “It’s the Mask of Agamemnon.”
“Oh, that’s nice” came the reply.
“Do you remember when we went to Athens and saw the original?”
“Then why are we looking at this one?” A fair question. Why are we looking at it? Why did I point it out in the first place? Would I have done if we hadn’t seen the original? I’m sure I would, although I would have been slightly disappointed that it wasn’t the real deal. I also got excited about this statue of the Prima Porta Augustus, doesn’t he look a bit like Superman?
One thing the Ashmolean does really well is the hands-on stuff. I particularly enjoyed the “Writing Using Symbols” activity, it was a really good way to get you thinking about written language. Can you guess what we were asked to communicate?