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Visual & Decorative Arts Blog

The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford | Art of Fine Gifts

Posted by Matt Knight


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We're proud to be working with the Ashmolean Museum, located in Oxford. The museum boasts an extensive collection collection of eastern art, ranging from prints, to sculpture, textiles, and more. Right now we have several beautiful designs from the museum available on iPhone 5 cases. The perfect gift for the tech-savvy, art lover in your life.

History of the Museum

The museum as we see it today is the result of fusing two classic Oxford institutions: the University Art Collection and the original Ashmolean Museum.  The University Art Collection is the older party, being founded in 1620 and home to only a handful of portraits and oddities. Slowly more contributions were made, notably Guy Fawke's lantern and a sword that belonged to Henry VIII. During the 1660's and 70's the collection started to develop rapidly. As the contents of the museum fleshed out, they began to cover a broader range of historical and artistic pieces. It was around this time that the public could attend for a small fee. The museum ticked along nicely for a number of years before receiving two significant donations in 1788 and 1830, for the purpose of building a museum.

The new museum opened in 1845. The collections were moved around to better dress the building and new works were purchased too, such as a major group of drawings by Raphael and Michelangelo. This helped established the museum as a home for the Old Masters, but also keen to measure the quality of these historic pieces against the talent of more contemporary artists, John Ruskin donated a group of watercolours by J. W. M. Turner. And so, in this way, the museum developed year upon year, with even more prestigious collections being added to its ranks by benefactors.

Ashmolean's Curiosities

It is interesting to note, that despite the massive refurbishments that occurred because of the donations after 1830, Elias Ashmolean had insisted that his curiosities that first began this whole process, be placed in a custom built museum. As it happened, his collection was placed in a small building adjacent to the main structure (the Ashmolean Museum mk.1). The items in this collection were different to that of the classic and contemporary art across the way, as they were varied in topic and scattered throughout periods of time. 

However, as natural decay began to effect items from the original collection, such as animal skins becoming almost completely destroyed, a change in tact was in order. Throughout the 19th century the museum began collating works of natural history instead, repositioning itself into a major new role in what was the emerging field of archaeology. 

The Museum Today and it's Asian Art

After years of building the collections and receiving more and more visitors, it was concluded that the museum and art collection needed to expand. After some negotiating and the earning of donations, the Ashmolean Museum as we know it today was finally finished in 1908.  

Already in possession of a respected collection of Islamic, Japanese and Chinese materials, in 1961 the collections of the Indian Institute were also absorbed. This helped build what is still one of the most formidable asian art collections in Europe today. The museum is a key resource for those studying eastern history, language, or anthropology, and so extensive is the collection that it can aide students of even the most niche topics.  

Visitors to the museum today will find this incredible collection of eastern materials as only one part of what it an incredible museum, housing various items and masterpieces of art that span across history and geography. We're proud to be able to work with this remarkable institution and if you're looking for a beautiful Christmas gift, our iPhone 5 cases may be just the thing. Featuring stunning artwork from the eastern collection, these slim, snap-on cases can transform your iPhone into a work of art. You can buy one from our website, or Amazon.  

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Topics: J. M. W. Turner, Ashmolean Museum, Japanese woodblock prints

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