The Ashmolean: Crossing Cultures–Crossing Time
This summer the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, the oldest public museum in the United Kingdom, hosts its first major temporary exhibition in the new four-hundred-square-meter space designed for this purpose as part of the museum’s expansion and renovation. The show, entitled The Lost World of Old Europe: The Danube Valley, 5000– 3500 bc and featuring over 250 artifacts, including many borrowed from collections in Romania, Bulgaria, and Moldova, had its debut in New York at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University. Its installation at the Ashmolean inaugurates the expanded programming made possible by the museum’s enhanced facilities.
A six-story building designed by Rick Mather Architects and doubling the museum’s exhibition space opened to the public last November and was named the “Building Project of the year” at the Building Awards ceremony in London in April. The new displays of the permanent collection address the theme “Crossing Cultures—Crossing Time,” which is particularly effective in the transitional rooms that connect different sections. For example, the space between the Asian art department and European decorative arts has mirroring displays revealing Asian influences on European design and vice versa.
The rooftop restaurant, with a spectacular view overlooking Oxford, has become one of the city’s most popular destinations.
The Lost World of Old Europe: The Danube Valley, 5000–3500 bc · Ashmolean Museum, Oxford · through August 15 · www.ashmolean.org
Photo: Atrium of the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Oxford designed by Rick Mather Architects, 2009. Photograph by James Hudson.