ASHMOLEAN Museum staff have paid tribute to the former curator and art historian Dr Jon Whiteley, who has died.

Dr Whiteley was a popular teacher at the Beaumont Street museum, and had been an Oscar-winning child actor, having received an Academy Juvenile Award for a role in the 1950s.

Dr Whiteley, who lived in Southmoor Road, Oxford, joined the museum in 1976 as Assistant Keeper in the Department of Western Art.

He appeared in five films as a youngster, picking up an Academy Juvenile Award for his role in 1953’s The Little Kidnappers.

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Ashmolean spokeswoman Claire Parris said: “In a career of 38 years at the Ashmolean Jon was a dedicated teacher to generations of Oxford students, one of the country’s most distinguished art historians and a well-loved colleague and friend to everyone who knew and worked with him.

“Jon was just the loveliest man. There can’t have a been a person more kind, erudite and impressive, yet without a hint of self-regard.”

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Museum director Xa Sturgis, said: “ The Ashmolean lived in Jon’s bones – to hear him speak about almost any aspect of the museum’s history or its collections was always both inspiring and somewhat daunting in its demonstration of the depth and range of his knowledge, attention and thought.

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“But even now, at this sad time, Jon still lives at the Ashmolean. He is there in the collections that he helped shape, but he is there too in the friendly welcome in the Print Room, in the work of our Learning department, in our concerts and our scholarship and what I hope is both our sense of public duty and an understanding of the importance of personal relationships both within institutions and in the way institutions relate to the world.

“By the time I arrived at the museum a little over five years ago Jon had apparently retired. In the years since he not only continued to give lectures and talks, contribute to exhibition catalogues, give freely of his advice and knowledge, but he also wrote a complete catalogue of the collection of French paintings after 1800 which, with typical diligence and timing, he completed just before he fell ill.

“The catalogue will be published next year.

“We will miss Jon. He is much loved and our thoughts are with his wife, Linda, and his family, at this sad and difficult time.”