Looking for the best art galleries in Oxford? Get your culture fix at one of these brilliant spots.
From the biggies showcasing classical and contemporary artwork to Oxford art galleries featuring retro postcards and film posters, the city is a dream for art enthusiasts of all styles.
But with so many spots, how do you decide which to visit on your trip to Oxford? Let me help you – these are our favourites.
Best Art Galleries in Oxford
Only got time to visit one art gallery in Oxford? Make it The Ashmolean, A.K.A Oxford University’s museum of art and archaeology.
The museum was founded in 1682, when Elias Ashmole donated his collection to the University, and has since expanded with a mammoth collection of impressive art, sculptures, and centuries-old antiquities.
Art-wise, expect everything from contemporary European works spanning the Renaissance all the way through to the noughties. Big names with artwork on display include Jan van Kessel the Elder, George Jones, and Camille Pissarro.
A huge portion of this Oxford museum and art gallery is also dedicated to Egyptology, which I think is well worth checking out while you’re there.
Modern Art Oxford
Modern Art Oxford is not just a gallery but a community filled with art lovers.
The space is fairly small, but the exhibitions are anything but. As the name suggests, the focus here is on contemporary art from a range of big names and up-and-coming artists around the globe.
The exhibitions are always pretty impressive, transforming the space into something completely new each time. Previous exhibitions have included dedications to Dadaism and a fascinating collection of sculptures by Ruth Asawa titled Citizen of the Universe.
Keep your eye out for their MAO Late events – where the gallery stays open after dark, along with the cafe and plenty of live music throughout the evening.
Christ Church Picture Gallery
Christ Church boasts a fascinating history, so is it really any surprise that it is home to one of the best art galleries in Oxford? I don’t think so.
You’ll find Christ Church Picture Gallery tucked away near the back entrance to Christ Church – the gallery is filled with the college’s huge collection of paintings and drawings by the Old Masters.
When I say huge, I mean HUGE. We’re talking more than 300 artworks and 2,000 drawings, including the likes of Filippino Lippi’s ‘The Wounded Centaur’ and Jacopo Tintoretto’s ‘Martyrdom of St. Lawrence’.
Pssst… Make sure to head out and explore afterwards. After all, Christ Church was used as a filming location for the famous Harry Potter series.
Art dealer Aidan Meller has managed to showcase quite a collection of works over recent years.
With a strong focus on contemporary Western pieces, Meller has presented pieces by the likes of Camille Pissarro, Pablo Picasso, and Marc Chagall in his humble Oxford art gallery. Meller also hosts events in his nearby stately home, which is, of course, adorned with impressive artwork.
This Oxford gallery has a strong passion for inspiring the community, so expect plenty of talks and workshops surrounding the pieces on display to pop up in their what’s on their calendar.
This contemporary Oxford gallery showcases the very best modern works from internationally renowned artists as well as up-and-coming creatives.
I might be biased, but out of the 40 locations nationwide, the Oxford location is my favourite.
Highlights include works by Christian Hook, Henderson Cisz, and Fabian Perez, though pieces rotate, so you can expect a total surprise each time you visit. I love.
Castle Fine Art
Situated in Westgate Shopping Centre, Castle Fine Art is a small but perfectly-formed Oxford art gallery that showcases contemporary works. I’m talking about everything from Spiderman posters to pop-art-inspired prints.
Works by the likes of Robert Oxley, Billy Connolly, and Paul Kenton are on display – it’s a great place to pick up a unique piece for your home. That is if you fancy splurging hundreds of pounds.
Sanders of Oxford
Ok, so this is a wildcard – but when you see how cool it is I think you’ll forgive me for including it.
Sanders of Oxford is less of a traditional art gallery and more of an antique art collection.
It may be a shop, but step inside, and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported into a vintage gallery as antique prints and maps adorn the walls. The best bit? You can purchase absolutely everything.
From 20th-century prints to botanical pieces and caricatures, there’s plenty to browse. Add to this one of the oldest maps of Oxford in existence, and you’ve got yourself the coolest little art spot in the city.
Practical Tips for Visiting Oxford’s Art Galleries
- Check whether you need to book a ticket in advance – for example, The Ashmolean allows walk-ins but booking a ticket is ideal for busy days.