The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Architect: Charles Robert Cockerell (1788-1863). Built 1839-45, on the corner of Beaumont Street, Oxford. Cockerell won the design competition for the gallery from among twenty-eight entrants. As the Ashmolean's own website explains, the architect's remit at that time was to combine an art gallery in the western half with a modern languages institute in the eastern part. Arthur MacGregor describes the winning plan as follows:

Within a unified facade with lateral projecting wings, Cockerell’s design enclosed the Taylorian institute within the right-hand pavilion (given a handsome elevation of its own towards St. Giles) while the remainder of the structure was occupied by the Galleries. A primary inspiration for the design was provided by the recently explored Temple of Apollo at Bassae, where Cockerell had taken part in the excavations and had thereafter made a detailed study of the architecture. [58]

Even before the work was completed, the University's collections were expanding. Later, in 1861, "in an act calculated to emphasise the importance of contemporary art alongside the Old Masters," John Ruskin donated "an important group of watercolours by J. M. W. Turner" ("History"). In this splendid setting the Ashmolean now houses collections of world-class significance.

Photograph by George P. Landow 1977; text by Jacqueline Banerjee 2016. You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. Click on the image for a larger picture.


"History of the Ashmolean" (The Ashmolean Museum's own website). 29 January 2016.

MacGregor, Arthur. The Ashmolean: A Brief History of the Institution and Its Collections. Oxford: Ashmolean, 2001.

Last modified 29 January 2016