OXFORD’S Ashmolean Museum is celebrating its second most successful annual appeal ever as the total nears the £100,000 mark.

So far £97,000 has been raised by the museum’s birthday appeal, which was only launched in June to celebrate the museum’s 330th year, smashing the original £80,000 target.

This includes a £40,000 donation from two anonymous donors who boosted this year’s appeal by match funding the first £40,000. A total of 341 donations have been made.

The cash will help allow the museum’s educational activities to continue and prevent the Ashmolean from having to charge admission.

Education activities include family drop-in craft sessions, tours and talks, which 70,437 children and adults took part in over the last year.

It will also help preserve the 700,000 objects in the museum’s care. It is second only to the 2009 appeal, when just under £200,000 was raised to mark the completion of the museum’s £61m five-year revamp.

Tess McCormick, head of development at the Beaumont Street museum, said: “We wanted to do something to celebrate the fact we are, I think, the oldest public museum anywhere.

“These collections have been on display since 1683.

“Voluntary donations for the museum make a hugely important contribution to what we can do here. “We have reached £97,139. Now we are trying to get to that £100,000 mark.

“The total is second only to our total in 2009 when we got just under £200,000. We want to say a massive thank-you to everyone who has given.”

Every year, it costs £220,000 to run the museum’s Education Centre, inclusive of all staff and activities, and £431,000 is spent on conservation.

Ms McCormick said: “The Ashmolean needs to raise £1.4m each year in support of its work, and our annual appeal is a crucial part of this income.

“We rely on it to keep delivering the lively programme that visitors can enjoy here, and to help us continue to care for the collections.

“We also seek donations from grant-making trusts, individuals and corporations in support of the museum.”

The museum’s Education Department organised more than 275 visits over the past year from nurseries, schools and colleges, involving 28,227 students.

It has also hosted 117 school visits, involving more than 9,400 students.


  • Elias Ashmole donated his collection of antiquities, geological and zoological specimens to the University of Oxford in 1683.
  • The collection, already 50 years old, was founded by John Tradescant.
  • It went on show in 1683 in a museum that had been built in Broad Street – now the Museum of the History of Science.
  • The university later established a new natural science museum – now Oxford’s Museum of Natural History – and all the natural history specimens from the Ashmolean were transferred there in the 1860s.
  • In 1845 a grand neo-classical structure in Beaumont Street which housed the university’s art collections was built onto the rear of the University Galleries.
  • The Ashmolean merged with the University Art Collection in 1908 to form the present Ashmolean Museum.