The Ashmolean is dedicated to the use of material evidence to further the understanding of art, archaeology and history. The Museum is a research institution in its own right, but also an important facilitator of research for the academic divisions of the University of Oxford, and for scholars worldwide.

As a University Museum, the Ashmolean seeks to provide intellectual leadership in scholarship and research relating to areas covered by its collections. The research priorities arise from the nature of the collections, but are not confined to the collections themselves. The scope of current research includes historical, material, and intellectual context, the history of collecting, the conservation and scientific analysis of the collections, as well as museology.

While research may be driven by research questions with a defined research methodology, the value of fundamental taxonomic research is also recognized as a distinctive Museum contribution to intellectual endeavour.

For more information about Ashmolean research, please contact our research facilitator, Dr Harriet Warburton, or to discuss research related to a particular subject area, please contact the relevant member of curatorial staff or department.

Raphael and the Eloquence of Drawing – A Leverhulme Trust Research Project

Through a focus on the expressive and enchanting powers of Raphael’s drawings – their eloquence – this project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust and led by Dr Catherine Whistler in collaboration with Dr Ben Thomas, University of Kent, aims for a new understanding of his art.

Our aim in this project is to transcend disciplinary boundaries so as to have a transformative effect on academic and public perceptions of Raphael. Unique in his impact on Western art theory, education and production for over three centuries, Raphael lost this canonical status with the advent of modernism. His art is widely viewed today as remote, bland or irrelevant. Current scholarship presents Raphael as essentially pragmatic in his use of drawings as stepping-stones towards the final, polished work of art. Using interdisciplinary approaches, and by exploring the experimental character of drawing and its rhetorical possibilities, we want to ‘make strange’ an over-familiar artist and to stimulate new thinking about drawing in and beyond art history.

Raphael worked at a time when ideals of eloquence were a catalyst for creativity across the arts. We will be taking this concept as our guiding interpretative tool. Through the close scrutiny of his drawings and their materiality, we will analyse the graphic language that Raphael developed as a means of persuasive communication, and we will examine how the drawings, with their gestural rhythms and spontaneity, can reveal processes of thinking and improvisation.

Among the research outputs, a major international exhibition Raphael.The Drawings (1 June - 3 September 2017) in collaboration with the Albertina, Vienna, will bring our findings to a wide audience.

For further information about the project, and past and future activities see:

Image: Raphael (1483-1520), Combat of nude Men, Red chalk on off-white paper, WA1846.193a.

Three Oxford University Museums Studentships

Fully funded three-year doctoral studentships, commencing October 2016.

The Oxford University Museums AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership is delighted to announce three fully funded studentships to commence on 1 October 2016. The awards represent partnerships with the Universities of Warwick, Durham and Cambridge, across the fields of Classics, History of Art and African History.

Each studentship includes a full AHRC grant (fees and subsistence) and an additional contribution of up to £2,000 per year to cover the costs of undertaking research in Oxford. The calls for applications are below.

For further details, please follow this link.

Closing date: 5pm on Wednesday 23 March 2016

Featured Projects

Coin Hoards of the Roman Empire Project

Thousands of coin hoards have been found throughout the geographical area which once constituted the Roman Empire. The information provided by these hoards has the potential to transform our understanding of coin supply, circulation and use, as well as having implications for the study of the Roman Economy as a whole. However, at present there is no comprehensive summary of this data and without this, their potential cannot fully be realised.

The Coin Hoards of the Roman Empire Project intends to fill the major lacuna in the digital coverage of hoards from antiquity. Its aim is to collect information about hoards of all coinages in use in the Roman Empire between 30 BC and AD 400. Imperial Coinage will form the main focus of the project, but Iron Age and Roman Provincial coinages issued within this period will also be included.

For more information please visit: