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Arts and Culture in Oxford

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Unsurprisingly for a city home to an ancient educational mecca, Oxford has a highbrow cultural scene, with the university attracting many international speakers and visiting artists. From the vast libraries stacked to the ceiling with leather-bound books, to the museums full of relics from around the world, Oxford is as fascinating as it is picturesque.




The city has several grand museums hosted in historic buildings, many of which are associated with Oxford University. As well as lively debates and mind-expanding lectures that are open to the public, many offer free admission, making them accessible to all.


Oxford University Museum of Natural History


With spectacular Neo-Gothic architecture, featuring high arched ceilings and intricate carved stone, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History is an impressive free museum with a rich history. As a former scientific centre for the university, the building held many key debates on evolution, and its exhibits are now dedicated to the natural world, from dinosaur bones to gemstones.


Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PW. Tel:+44 1865 272950


Oxford University Museum of Natural History website
Ashmolean Museum


The Ashmolean Museum was founded thanks to a donation of a cabinet of curiosities, and since then has continued to expand and add collections from across the world. Exhibitions include the spectacular Egyptian room with mummies and objects from ancient times, and the Sands Gallery which features an array of art and design from the 20th century.


Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2PH. Tel:+44 1865 278000


Ashmolean Museum website


Art galleries


Oxford has a small but diverse selection of art galleries, with exhibitions from both local and international artists. From cosy, local galleries to larger exhibits run by the university, art lovers are well catered for in the city.


Modern Art Oxford


Never shying away from challenging and sometimes controversial art, Modern Art Oxford is a lively gallery with a wide selection of changing exhibits. Set in a suitably modern building, with bright galleries full of Pop Art, avant-garde sculptures, and larger scale installations, it's the perfect place to get a new perspective on the world.


30 Pembroke Street, Oxford OX1 1BP. Tel:+44 1865 722733


Modern Art Oxford website


Historic buildings


Oxford is a delight for lovers of architecture, with its famous “dreaming spires” overlooking a landscape that encompasses many styles and eras. It’s little wonder it’s inspired writers and artists for generations.


St Edmund Hall


The oldest college in Oxford, St. Edmund Hall has buildings that date back to medieval times. Set around a quadrangle, with the 12th century church St Peter-in-the-East at its heart, you can take a tour and travel back in time to the very origins of Oxford as we know the city today.


Queen's Lane, Oxford OX1 4AR. Tel:+44 1865 279000


St Edmund Hall website




There's a lively theatre scene to be found in Oxford, from a couple of large, commercial theatres, to the dozens of small, independent studio spaces. The university puts on many productions, and you'll find the calendar packed full of visits from touring theatre groups.


New Theatre Oxford


The city's largest theatre is host to many touring musicals, family friendly shows, and large scale productions. There's a varied calendar of events, from TED conferences, to ballet and stand-up comedy, and this pretty Art Deco venue has been nicely renovated with modern comforts.


George Street, Oxford OX1 2AG. Tel:+44 844 871 3020


New Theatre Oxford website


Oxford Playhouse


The stage of the stylish Oxford Playhouse has played host to performances by some of Britain's most famous actors, and continues to host a lively program of events. You'll find drama, comedy, and family shows, as well as productions by amateur theatre groups, and smaller poetry and studio shows.


Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2LW. Tel:+44 1865 305305


Oxford Playhouse website