Page last updated at 11:43 GMT, Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Oldest museum to close for year

Ashmolean Museum (pic courtesy of
The Ashmolean was founded by Oxford University in 1683

The UK's oldest public museum - Oxford University's Ashmolean - is to close for almost a year while the building undergoes major development work.

The previous display space will be doubled. There will be 39 new galleries, a new education centre and Oxford's first rooftop cafe.

The museum will be closed from 23 December until November 2009.

Meanwhile, portraits from a photography campaign, "My Ashmolean, My Museum", will be launched on two buses.

The portraits of author Philip Pullman and historian and TV presenter Bettany Hughes will be depicted on the backs of the London Espress coaches, alongside an oil painting and an ancient Greek vase from the Ashmolean's collections.

New front entrance

The dramatic series of photographs, illustrating its world-renowned collections, can be seen for the last time before the museum's closure.

To capture the public's attention, fine-art photographer Theo Chalmers has connected contemporary faces to the museum's collection of art and archaeology.

The Ashmolean, which was founded in 1683, features collections covering a wide range of cultures from early Egyptian to Italian Renaissance and 20th Century European art.

Construction work began in 2006 and is funded with support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Linbury Trust.

It has had a minimal impact on visitor access to the collections on display, but in 2009, builders will need to undertake the major work of constructing a new front entrance.

From 23 December, there will be no access to the museum or its cafe, although the shop will remain open for business.

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