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Temporary Closure of the Ashmolean

OXFORD.- The Ashmolean Museum and Café will temporarily close to the public after to prepare for the opening of the new museum building in November 2009. The Shop will remain open for business as usual.

To build on its strengths as a world-class museum of art and archaeology, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford is undergoing a major development, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Linbury Trust. Since construction started in 2006, the development work has had a minimal impact on the existing building to ensure visitors had access to the collections on display. However, in 2009 builders will need increased access to the existing building to undertake the major work of constructing a new front entrance and creating breakthrough points between the new and old building. The Museum’s closure is necessary for the safety of visitors, the collections, and staff, while the final phase of development is being completed.

Simultaneously, the Western Art galleries have embarked upon a programme of refurbishment to integrate the existing galleries with those being developed in the new museum building. The last and most significant stage of the refurbishment requires the galleries’ closure in order to carry out the relevant maintenance. Installation of the paintings and objects in the new Museum and the renovated Western Art galleries will commence in February 2009.

There will be no public access to the Museum and the Café following 23 December 2008 until the launch of the new Ashmolean in the late autumn of 2009. The Western Art Print Room will be unavailable to the general public but will remain open by appointment for specialist visitors needing to see particular works, and also to support university and post-A-level teaching. The Shop will remain open for business as usual.

Designed by the award-winning architect Rick Mather, the new Ashmolean building will increase the previous display space by 100%. It will provide the Museum with 39 new galleries, a new education centre, conservation studios, a walkthrough between the Museum and the Cast Gallery and Oxford’s first rooftop café.

The innovative new approach to displaying the collections Crossing Cultures Crossing Time will transform the way the Ashmolean’s rare and beautiful objects are experienced and understood by visitors. Based on the idea that the civilisations that have shaped our modern societies developed as part of an interrelated world culture, rather than in isolation, it assumes that every object has a story to tell. These stories are best uncovered by making appropriate comparisons and connections, tracing the journey of ideas and influences through the centuries and across continents.

Themed galleries will explore the connections between objects and activities common to different cultures, such as money, reading and writing and representations of the human image. The five floors of galleries will be arranged chronologically charting the development of the ancient and modern worlds. Crossing Cultures Crossing Time will highlight the strengths of the Museum’s collections, while focusing on educational needs and creating a welcoming learning environment.

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