At a press conference in London on Monday, Director of the Ashmolean Museum, Dr Alexander Sturgis, announced that an anonymous UK benefactor has pledged a seven-figure sum to match donations to The Ashmolean Fund, newly established to secure the future of Britain’s oldest museum.
The Ashmolean Fund aims to raise an endowment for the Museum of £50 million. This will provide at least £2 million annually, nearly 20% of its current operating budget, to support the Ashmolean in perpetuity. Donations of over £9 million have been received to date. The Museum aims to raise the first £25 million by 2020.
Recent gifts to The Ashmolean Fund include:
- A lifetime gift from The Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation to endow the Keepership of Antiquities, enabling the Museum to continue to attract the highest calibre of international specialists to Oxford.
- A seven-figure legacy gift in honour of the late Khoan and the late Professor Michael Sullivan to support the work of the Museum’s Department of Eastern Art. This significant bequest will be invested in The Ashmolean Fund so that it will forever help to underpin work to curate, research and display the Ashmolean’s world-class collections from China, Japan, the Islamic world, India and Southeast Asia.
- Support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) via its Catalyst Endowment match-funding challenge.
Since its physical transformation in 2009, the Ashmolean continues to launch new projects. A major redevelopment of the galleries of ancient Egypt and Nubia was opened in 2011; the Randolph Sculpture Gallery which displays the famous Arundel marbles was refurbished and redisplayed last year; and a re-hang of the nineteenth-century western art galleries is currently underway. A new gallery for the Wellby Collection of Renaissance silverware and exotica will open to the public in 2015. The Ashmolean continues to transform itself and foster dialogue between cultures and across time.
The Ashmolean has had a very successful year in 2013–14. Cézanne and the Modern (13 March–22 June 2014) was the Museum’s most popular exhibition ever with over 82,000 people and Francis Bacon Henry Moore: Flesh and Bone (12 September 2013–5 January 2014) set the record with 45,000 visitors.