Ashmolean Museum University Engagement Programme/Medical School Collaboration, Trinity 2013
19th Century Japanese landscapes used in the study

Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum University Engagement Programme (UEP), an initiative funded by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation, was established in 2012 to explore and develop the use of the collections of the Museum in the teaching and research of the University.  Three Teaching Curators from the Museum have been working across a range of subjects taught at Oxford, especially those beyond the Museum’s traditional, core disciplines.  

Brasenose lecturer in medicine and Research Fellow in NDCN Dr Chrystalina Antoniades and Teaching Curator Dr Jim Harris have been working with second-year medical student Jonathan Attwood on a project investigating change blindness. This is the phenomenon that occurs when large changes in a visual stimulus go unnoticed by the observer. Pairs of similar objects including Japanese woodblock prints, ancient Greek ceramics, and seventeenth-century English silver, were selected from the museum’s collections. Each pair manifested some variation in condition, colour or design.  

Working with Professor Glyn Humphreys from Experimental Psychology, they devised an experiment enabling a comparison to be made between the observations of people looking for the differences between the objects ‘live’ and those seeing them only on a screen. With help from the Ashmolean’s study room supervisors Alessandra Cereda and Sigolene Loizeau, students and Ashmolean staff took part in the experiment, producing data that will be of interest both to neuroscientists and the Museum. This was the first time a Teaching Curator had collaborated in the supervision of a student in the Medical School and is the largest single project undertaken by the UEP in its first year.  Dr Antoniades and Dr Harris plan to continue this imaginative and creative approach to using the collections as a research resource.  In this way, it is hoped that the relationship between the Museum and the University’s faculties can continue to develop.

For further information please contact Chrystalina Antoniades