The curators at the University of Oxford's Ashmolean Museum have been recording bite-sized tales of the wonderful, and sometimes unexpected, life of a museum. We can’t wait to share them with you! Join us every weekday for 3 weeks, from 28 December onwards, for a daily dose of cheer. Museum Secrets is produced and presented by Lucie Dawkins.
The Ghost Painter
Shelagh Vainker, the Curator of Chinese Art, introduces us to Miao Jiahui, the ‘ghost painter’ of the Chinese Empress Dowager. The Ashmolean holds a rare painting of some peonies, in which she came out of the shadows by signing her name as the artist.
The Masked Matriarch
Catherine Whistler, Keeper of the Western Art Department, introduces us to Titian’s Triumph of Love, an amusing painting which hides a secret: it was once the cover of a portrait of one of the most formidable women in Venice.
The Invention of Empathy
Podcast host Lucie Dawkins takes a look at John Singer Sargent’s drawing of Vernon Lee in the Ashmolean Collection. Vernon was a genderqueer trailblazer who invented the word ‘empathy’ in the English language.
More Tea, Vicar?
Jim Harris, Andrew W Mellon Teaching Curator at the Ashmolean, tells us the story of a silver teapot hiding a rude joke underneath it.
Aisha Burtenshaw, Head of Registrars and Exhibitions, takes us on a trip around the world with objects from the Ashmolean Museum.
Upcycling and Glad Rags
Francesca Leoni, the Ashmolean’s Curator of Islamic Art, tells the story of an up-cycled Cretan wedding dress which found its way to the UK as a cushion cover.
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Stay in and visit the Ashmolean Museum with Museum Secrets
When I saw that The Ashmolean Museum was going to start a podcast I was thrilled! I have been in pandemic lockdown since March and I haven’t been able to visit museums, leaving me in desperate need of a museum fix. So far, I have not been let down! It’s really fun hearing about specific pieces like Still Life of Asparagus (I know that sounds dull, but it is really beautifully explained!) or the Laocoön cast; more specifically his naughty bits. I was surprised and somewhat sadden that the episodes weren’t longer, but they release daily to keep me coming back. Definitely brightened the end of this trash fire year. Thanks Ashmolean!