The director of the Ashmolean Museum, Dr Alexander Sturgis, has announced that an anonymous UK benefactor has pledged a seven-figure sum of money to match donations to The Ashmolean Fund; a newly established fund to secure the future of Britain’s oldest museum – the news of this donation was released at a press conference in London today.
The Ashmolean Fund plans to raise an endowment for the Museum of £50 million. The sum of money will provide at least £2 million annually, which is nearly 20% of its current operating budget, this is designed to support the Ashmolean in perpetuity. To date there have been donations of over £9 million to the museum. The Ashmolean aims to raise the first £25 million by 2020.
The museum has recently received gifts of a seven-figure legacy donation 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 collections from China, Japan, the Islamic world, India and Southeast Asia; and also a lifetime gift from The Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation to endow the Keepership of Antiquities, which will enable the museum to continue to attract international specialists to Oxford.
The Ashmolean continues to launched numerous new projects since its substantial redesign in 2009. This included a major redevelopment of the galleries of ancient Egypt and Nubia 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 at the museum. A new gallery for the Wellby Collection of Renaissance silverware and exotica will open to the public in 2015.
Dr Alexander Sturgis, Director of the Ashmolean, says: ‘It is a huge honour to have taken up the directorship of the Ashmolean and it is a particularly positive moment to do so. The Museum is welcoming more visitors than ever before and since the transformation in 2009, it has continued to develop its galleries and collections and it has established a world-class exhibitions programme. Projects such as these have inspired trusts, foundations and individuals to continue to support the Ashmolean, and the major gift which we have announced today, is an act of generosity which will set us on a path to securing the future of Britain’s oldest public museum.’