The Ashmolean Museum was built over a 5 year period beginning in 1678 and finishing in 1683. It was the first ever university museum and was originally erected to house The Cabinet Of Curiosities that Elias Ashmole gave the Oxford University in 1677. It is said that the Ashmolean Museum is the oldest public museum in Britain and quiet possibly the world.
When it opened its doors in 1683 there was a single room housing the curiosities that were donated to the university, but over time the collections have grown and the building expanded and renovated. The museum now houses the biggest collection of Raphael drawings, the most significant collection of anglo saxon artefacts and the greatest Chinese collection in the west.
The building closed for a period of time between 2006 and 2009, after a 61 million pound major renovation which doubled the gallery size and space and also allowed a rethought in layout which changed the way the artworks and artefacts were displayed. The gallery reopened its doors again on 7th November 2009.
On the 26th November 2011 The Ashmolean Museum opened two new galleries to the public focussing on ancient Egypt and Numbia.