The Ashmolean Museum can be found on Beaumont street in Oxford, and is also known as the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology. It is the world's first university museum, and was originally built in 1678–1683, in order to house the 'cabinet of curiosities' that Elias Ashmole donated Oxford University in 1677. This 'cabinet of curiosities' included natural history items, geology and works of art, not to mention the stuffed body of the last dodo ever seen in Europe! Unfortunately in 1755 the dodo had to be destroyed, as it had become so moth eaten and worn that only it's head and one claw remained. but by 1755 the stuffed dodo was so moth-eaten that it was destroyed, except for its head and one claw.
The original building has been known as the 'Museum of the History of Science' since 1924, displaying exhibitions such as the world's largest collection of astrolabes (instruments to measure angles of a slope). The main museum as we see it today wasn't built until 1854, but boasts huge arrays and examples of fine art, including one of the best collections of Pre-Raphaelite paintings and English silver, not to mention an excellent collection of Greek and Minoan pottery.
The Ashmolean Museum suffered a terrible loss during the millennium new years celebrations - as the fireworks welcomed in the year 2000, thieves took this opportunity to break in to the museum by climbing up scaffolding that was attached to an adjoining building. They stole just one painting -
an important Cezanne landscape painting of Auvers-sur-Oise, which was valued at £3 million. Due to the fact that only one item was taken, and it has not been offered for public sale, it is thought that this was a case of an 'artwork stolen to order'.
During recent years, the Ashmolean museum has been extensively modernized, mostly in the interior, and now includes a restaurant and large gift shop.