Offering more than just a pretty facade, the Ashmolean was founded way back in 1683, literally before anyone knew what the word “museum” actually meant. It houses an important hodgepodge of antiquities and art on par with (but on a smaller scale than) the British Museum, including a lantern carried by Guy Fawkes during the foiled Gunpowder Plot; the Anglo-Saxon Alfred Jewel of gold, enamel, and rock crystal; a Stradivarius violin; and assorted Old Masters paintings. Many pieces, like Chinese ceramics and antiquities from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome reflect the bounty of the expeditions the university has sponsored over the years. Oh, and you know, minor stuff by Raphael and Michelangelo.
- Frommer's Staff