The Ashmolean is first and foremost a University Museum.
We are committed to making our collections and expertise accessible for academic engagement at Oxford and in partnership with universities worldwide. The Museum is a world-class resource to enrich all kinds of intellectual enquiry, and our curators' scholarship contributes to teaching throughout the Oxford curriculum.
Ever since the Ashmolean opened in 1683, complete with an experimental laboratory in the basement, the Museum's collections and keepers have played a vital role in the Oxford curriculum. Today, Ashmolean curators supervise doctoral research, convene seminars, give lectures, and teach classes and courses for the undergraduate and masters degrees.
In 2012, the Ashmolean University Engagement Programme, generously funded by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation, began to re-imagine the Ashmolean's potential as a resource for academic engagement at Oxford and beyond.
Since then, new classes, new courses and new cross-disciplinary partnerships have broadened the range of subjects regularly employing object-centred learning in the Museum to include, for example, Medieval and Modern Languages, Geography, History, Tibetan Studies, Mathematics, Anthropology, Medicine, Business and English Literature.
As well as enhancing the degree programmes of Oxford students, these collaborations also offer the chance for their teachers to engage more deeply with the products of material and visual culture. Programmes like the Faculty Fellowships have brought fresh faculty thinking to bear on the collections. Eloquent Things and Krasis have made the Ashmolean a key centre for early-career scholars to develop their skills in object-based teaching and learning, whilst Our Museum Our Voices opens the Museum to diverse observations and new interpretations.
Academic Engagement programmes at the Ashmolean are led by the Teaching Curator, Dr Jim Harris. Jim's background is as a historian of late-medieval and early-Renaissance sculpture but at the Ashmolean his remit is to enable the entire range of the Museum's collections to be used in both the core teaching of the University and in wider academic life. In addition to collaborating with faculty on curriculum development, Jim offers training for early-career researchers in object-focused teaching, creates opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students alike to engage with the Museum and its collections outside their formal studies, and has initiated and led a number of key Public Engagement with Research initiatives.
Working with Jim behind the scenes to ensure the smooth delivery of academic engagement activity by providing access to objects for teaching and key administrative support to the Faculty Fellows programme, are our Collections Assistants, Ben Skarratt and Ellen Brown. Ben is a Historian, trained at the Universities of Oxford and York, and has been with the UEP for several years. His deep knowledge of the collections and the inner workings of the Museum are an invaluable resource. Ellen, who joined us in Autumn 2022, also knows the Museum well, as a member of the Ashmolean Visitor Experience team. Like Ben, she is a Historian and holds a Masters in Museum Studies from UCL.
Jim, Ben and Ellen's work is generously supported by the Barrie A and DeeDee Wigmore Foundation.
To see something of what we do, as it happens, follow us on Twitter at @AshmoleanUEP
To find out more about Krasis, head to the Krasis Blog and Twitter at @AshmoleanKrasis