Take a quick look around your home. Of your possessions what means the most to you; the photographs, the special gifts, the souvenirs of travels or the family heirlooms? Whatever you choose, it is that feeling which makes you say ‘my home’.

The Ashmolean, founded in 1683, was probably the world’s first public museum. It is undergoing redevelopment and in November, the stunning new extension designed by Rick Mather will open its door to you.

Director Christopher Brown and his team want you to go through those doors and think “This is my Ashmolean”. So, once inside which item from its world class collections would you decide resonates with your life?

On the museum’s forecourt, a new exhibition called My Ashmolean, My Museum has opened. The brilliant photographer Theo Chalmers has asked his 30 subjects just that. You can see them with the object and a quotation articulating each sitter’s connection to the work of art.

The theme of the new Ashmolean is crossing cultures and crossing time and Theo has run with that concept in the choice of his subjects. He begins at the beginning of life with a baby, through early childhood to his own godson, a pupil at Our Lady’s School, Cowley. rugby-playing Luca Abarno, like so many primary school children, feels connected to the mystery of Ancient Egypt so is photographed with Ram of Amon Re c680.

Luca says: “The writing on my forehead was translated from hieroglyphics.”

So the age of the subjects spans a lifetime, for there, too, is the author Colin Dexter, whose immortal creation, Inspector Morse, has battled with the dark side of Oxford!

Near him, fighting for justice is Shami Chakrabarti. Meanwhile, local singer songwriter Olivier Daysoul will beat the rhythm of life on his ginny drum and Raymond Blanc serves up the asparagus.

The historian, Bettany Hughes, spoke at the unveiling and is also a portrait.

She said: “I cycled here every day and it inspired me to want to get under the skin of other cultures and, contained in these beautifully designed rooms, is the whole world.”

Although the new displays will cross cultures, Bettany says it will reveal “one human heart”.

She is photographed with a 500BC Winged Nike and painted with a quotation from WB Yeats.

Museum volunteers Sue Peach, Sue Matthews and Jean Fermy are such dedicated supporters of the museum that they agreed to lie on the floor for an hour while Theo photographed them with a Japanese wood block print of Courtesan Wakaume of the Tama-ya by Kitagauma Otamaro (1753-1806).

Nearby, soaked to the theme of waterfall, was a real Japanese, Harami Kudu. Harami holds the achingly elegant waterfall vase by Namikawa Yasuyuki. Harami learned to speak English in Oxford but now teaches design at the Chelsea School of Art.

He told me: “Coming here makes me reconnect with my culture.”

Interestingly, he also said: “Japan’s economy suffered a severe downturn over ten years ago but one result has been a rise in creativity.”

The photographer admires Philip Pullman, who he says hesitated for not one second when having a necklace of dead fish hung around his neck.

Indeed, Theo’s portraits have surrealist overtones and he said: “I am grateful to Christopher Brown for giving me creative freedom and allowing my brains to spill out over the museum.”

Objects can tell stories if you let them. So behind Philip is Canaletto’s View of Dolo on the Brenta Canal (1732-35). Philip explained that quotation painted on his forehead was from a Guardian article. He will always be associated with the story of the struggle for the Jericho boatyard by the Oxford Canal, which inspired incomparable scenes in the His Dark Materials trilogy. Oxfordshire resident and Oscar-winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley was born near Scarborough and named at birth Krishna Pandit Bhanji so it is not surprising his photograph illustrates West meets East. Behind him is a serene standing Buddha from Gandara.

Cultures crossing is not so different from encounters between two human beings as long as we acknowledge our common humanity. I think that is summed up by the quotation on the skin of artist Maggi Hambling. “One pair of eyes meets another”. She was photographed with the portrait she painted of Francis Bacon, now in the Ashmolean’s collection.

Theo Chalmers has caught the eyes of two artists who not only look but also see. Seeing in a three dimensional way is the architect himself, Rick Mather, with a model of the extension and he is labelled “the New Ashmolean making complex things look easy”.

And it is all directed by Christopher Brown, ‘Pointing the future’, with the incomparable King Alfred jewel . Radio presenter Bill Heine hot-footed it from Washington for the opening. He had just returned from the foreign correspondents’ dinner with President Barack Obama. Surely, he is a 21st-century man who embodies crossing cultures.

I challenge readers to unravel the story behind Bill’s portrait.

There are so many I should mention — the fine journalist Christina Lamb, actor Laurence Fox, Author Jung Chang and Bob Johnson. You must discover for yourself the identity of the enigmatic Bob and experience the range and depth of these photographs.

The new museum is for you and for the children of the 21st century.

If you wish to leave your mark for posterity on the new building, quite literally, you can. If you give £50 to this exciting project your name will appear on the benefactors’ bridge.

When it reopens you can even claim it in another way and get married there or hold a special event because it is indeed your Ashmolean.

Like the famous and the not so famous whose portraits are on display, it represents their connection with the story of mankind and that is your story too.