A change of environment from the open spaces of the Cotswold countryside, to Oxford, whose great University is built of Cotswold stone, a magnificent golden ornament which glows warmly in the sun. Near the centre of Oxford lies the Ashmolean Museum, where Inspector Morse fans will remember 'The Jewel That Was Ours' is set. Opposite it, and also appearing in that and other Morse dramas, is the stately Randolph Hotel, for the more well off visitors to our city.
So here we were, in the rain, to inspect the new extension, tucked away behind the grand frontage. Would it be a blight or a blessing? It was a blessing. The new galleries are simply breathtaking and a delight. Here is our first view of the open plan design, which allows everyone to see everyone from different galleries - look beyond this little bronze of Rodin's thinker, to the tapestry beyond. Keep it in mind - it will appear later. There is a dizzying side staircase, overlooked by this upper walkway, which I could not quite capture properly -
Not all of the rooms are ready, but it did not detract from our enjoyment..
There was such a lovely, busy atmosphere, helpful, friendly staff on hand and so many people enjoying the old and new works on display.
Possibly the most spectacular area is this central 'hub' - if a tall, open column of space reaching from the top floor to the ground floor can be called a hub.
It is almost like a hall of mirrors- you look behind you to find you are looking at the section you were in not five minutes previously. Keep an eye on this Korean moon jar - looking through to some ceramic platters...
...cross the hall and there is the moon jar from the other side, with a glimpse of lower floor gallery just beneath it.
Now here is a corner of tapestry - that is the same tapestry we saw beyond Rodin's statuette -
And now we are looking up, across to the modern ceramics, and faintly visible through the cabinet, the upper gallery which we started off in.
If you are in Oxford I cannot recommend highly enough a visit to this wonderful new feature. We emerged over three hours later, our heads whirling, but thoroughly satiated.