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Take a step away from the hustle and bustle of the city and savor the silence as you browse through the wonderful and varied exhibits that are housed within the Ashmolean Museum. John Tradescant's collection of archaeological rarities (both man-made and natural) originally opened to the public in South London in the early 17th Century. The collection was inherited by Elias Ashmole and the Ashmolean opened in 1683. Even if you only have time to enjoy the antiquities galleries, with their exhibits dating from Paleolithic to Victorian times, your visit will have been worthwhile. You'll probably have to come back again if you also want to take in the collections of Eastern and Western art and the Heberden Coin Room. Lectures, guided tours and other special events are often organized and are always well-attended. The museum's galleries can also be hired for private events and receptions.
For those who enjoy the beauty and craftsmanship of early scientific instruments, this museum is full of delights. The building was opened in 1683 as the original Ashmolean Museum. It now houses the renowned Lewis Evans collection of clocks, sundials and other mathematical and astronomical instruments. Amongst the most prized pieces on show is the blackboard (complete with calculations) used by Einstein when he lectured in Oxford on the theory of relativity.
In 1963, Philip Bate gave his collection of orchestral woodwind instruments to Oxford University. Since that time, the collection has grown and grown in both quality and quantity, and it is now the largest and most comprehensive collection of European woodwind, brass and percussion instruments in England. Bate Collection is housed in the University Faculty of Music, and includes a harpsichord said to have been played by Haydn in Oxford, a complete Javanese gamelan and the world-famous Bressan treble recorder.
Completed in 1858, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History contains a wonderful exhibition of dinosaur skeletons, plus numerous curiosities including the remains of a dodo. This is a traditionally styled museum, but nonetheless holds delights for all the family. Venture upstairs to find the vast zoology, mineralogy and geology displays. At the rear, is the Pitt Rivers Museum which houses one of the world's finest collections of anthropological and archaeological exhibits. Also found within the premises of the museum are a souvenir shop and a Café.
When Lt. General Pitt Rivers, a man remembered for his contribution to the development of evolutionary anthropology and archaeology, decided to give his extensive collection to the Oxford University, he did so on two conditions. One was that a museum would need to be built to house the collection and two, that a lecturer would need to be appointed to teach anthropology. The Pitt Rivers Museum is a splendid structure that stands today as the place which houses these rare, precious and beautiful objects which were originally about 18,000 artifacts, but now total up to over half a million in all!