Museum Junkie: Oxford’s Ashmolean reopens today

The long wait is finally over for the grand reopening of Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology.

After being partially or completely closed for the past three years, the museum’s vast collection is finally open to the public again, with twice the exhibition space it once had.

The Ashmolean is the oldest public museum in the world, having opened in 1683, and while there have been a lot of changes over the years, none have been as big as this £61 million ($101 million) project. The expansion includes four temporary exhibition galleries so the Ashmolean can host blockbuster traveling shows, something it couldn’t do with its previous space.

The permanent collection has gone through some major changes too. More of it is on display now, of course, but also the style of the displays has been revamped with the new idea of Crossing Cultures Crossing Time, which allows visitors to see how civilizations developed as parts of an interrelated world culture. This is an an improvement over the old-style way of displaying civilizations as separate entities when in reality they influenced one another on many levels. It also echoes the global perspective that Oxford’s other world-class museum, the Pitt-Rivers, brings to its own collection.

The museum is best known for its collections of Anglo-Saxon, predynastic Egyptian, Asian, and Renaissance art and artifacts, but has a good sampling of treasures from just about every period and culture, everything from crocodile mummies to medieval beer mugs. Museum junkies will not want to miss the new Ashmolean.

If the pictures in the gallery below aren’t enough for you, check out this collection of photos by yours truly and Mrs. yours truly.