Elias Ashmolean opens the first modern museum in 1683 at Oxford, England

The Ashmolean Museum was named after its founder Elias Ashmole (1617–1692) and opened in 1683. It is widely recognized as being the first modern museum.  The original Ashmolean Museum was constructed near the Bodleian Library. It combined the functions of a repository for rare materials with a centre for research and learning, and was a model scientific institution for the time. The contents of that museum ar now housed in the Ashmolean Museum. Click here for a one-minute video of some of the collection.

Powhatan’s Mantle, is a large deer-hide hanging with shell beadwork decoration that dates to the first period of contact between Indigenous North American peoples and British colonists. It was probably made in the early 1600s in the southern Chesapeake Bay region of North America, by the Algonquian speaking peoples of the Powhatan Confederacy. 

Above is a detail of the mantle, a statement of the principles of his collection, and a portrait of Elias Ashmole.

A 1656 Canadian tunic (above, left) made of caribou hide and decorated with porcupine quillwork and beads made of beaver claws is thought to be the oldest surviving leather garment in North America. Three carved wooden ball-headed clubs (above, right), described by Europeans as “tomahawks” are also on display.