Tradescant Collection


The original Ashmolean Museum (now the Old Ashmolean) c. 1685The Ashmolean is the oldest public museum in Britain, and the first purpose-built public museum in the world. The events which led to its establishment began in 1677, when a cabinet of curiosities was donated to the University of Oxford by Elias Ashmole. This cabinet consisted of a collection of rarities, which Ashmole had received, by deed of gift, in 1659. To house this remarkable collection, a new building was erected on Broad Street beginning in 1679. Upon its completion, four years later, the museum was officially opened on 21 May, 1683.

The collection of rarities which formed the basis of the old Ashmolean was originally compiled by the two John Tradescants, father and son, who housed it in their residence at Lambeth, known affectionately as the �Ark'. While the Tradescants were, in most respects, typical of collectors of the period, they differed from their contemporaries in their approach to the matter of accessibility, for they were the earliest to acknowledge the value of their collection to the general public. What is more, they were the first to actually open their collection to a public audience; entrance being determined neither by status nor gender, but by the payment of a fee.

" Introduction
" The Cabinet of
" The John Tradescants
" The Tradescant
" Musaeum
" The Tradescant
" Further Reading
" The Catalogue
" About this Resource
To Faculty of Modern History: Court Culture page

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