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6 of the best art stops in Oxford, UK

Although renowned for its prestigious university, it is almost impossible to visit Oxford without stumbling upon the city’s thriving art scene. Dubbed ‘the city of dreaming spires’ by poet Matthew Arnold, Oxford’s art can be found on every cobbled corner – from its breath-taking architecture to its collection of charming antiques shops. Here’s our list of top Oxford art stops… oxford Ashmolean Museum No visit to Oxford is complete without a visit to the famous Ashmolean museum. The UK’s oldest museum and the world’s first university museum boasts an impressive collection, ranging from the imposing bronze cast of the 2,500 year-old Artemision Bronze to the contemporary ink landscapes of Chinese artist Liu Dan. Ashmolean, Oxford The Ashmolean has hosted an eclectic range of exhibitions since it’s reopening in 2009, with highlights from this year being Storms, Wars and Shipwrecks, focusing on the underwater archaeological finds from the Sicilian Seas, and the display of Andy Warhol’s works taken from the private Hall collection. Catch Rembrandt’s earliest surviving paintings, The Senses – a haunting collection by the Dutch artist in his teenage years – which are on display until the end of November. Even if you don’t get the chance to check out the Ashmolean’s treasures, it’s worth taking a walk past simply to enjoy the building’s exquisite neoclassical architecture. Christ Church Picture Gallery Today, most tourists flock to Christ Church college to explore some of the most recognizable locations from the Harry Potter film series – but it’s worth braving the Gryffindor-scarf- wielding masses to enjoy the fine art on offer in the college’s picture gallery. The gallery’s collection consists mostly of Italian Renaissance works donated by notable alumni of Christ Church, including pieces by Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo. The red-chalk drawings by Michelangelo are currently on display in the latest exhibition, Drawing in Red, which runs until early 2017. Mallams Mallams auctioneers have been dealing in art, antiques and collectibles since 1788 and now have three locations in Oxfordshire, with a further saleroom on the edge of the Cotswolds in Cheltenham. Their Oxford saleroom is situated in the heart of the city, just down the road from the notorious debating society, the Oxford Union. Mallams holds sales in everything from Islamic art to vintage jewellery to scientific instruments, as well as having a team of in-house experts providing advice and valuation services. Next month’s highlight will be their specialist sale in Modern & Post-War British art. Modern Art Oxford Established in 1966, Modern Art Oxford – previously named the Museum of Modern Art – is one of the UK’s leading spaces for modern and contemporary art. In the late 1990s, Modern Art Oxford hosted Yoko Ono’s first major solo exhibition, Have You Seen the Horizon Lately? Its reopening in 2002 saw Tracy Emin’s This is Another Place – a gathering of etchings and neon signs marking her first British solo exhibition in five years. Modern Art, Oxford The gallery is not only innovative through its spotlighting of cutting-edge artists, but also aims to make art accessible to all with free exhibitions and events. Modern Art Oxford is currently marking its 50th anniversary with an exhibition entitled KALEIDOSCOPE. The celebrations bring together iconic past works and commissions from a new generation of artists and will be running until 31st December. If film is more your thing, keep an eye out for the gallery’s film screenings – next month’s flick explores the fascinating life of heiress and ‘art addict,’ Peggy Guggenheim. Aidan Meller Gallery Situated in one of Oxford’s tourist hotspots, Broad Street – home to the Sheldonian Theatre, Clarendon Building and the original Blackwell’s bookstore – the Aidan Meller gallery specialises in Modern, Contemporary and Old Master art. The gallery runs a continuous programme of exhibitions, such as last month’s display entitled Dali & Surrealism focusing on the works of the eccentric Spanish artist. This month sees the arrival of the British Modernism exhibition, including the works of English sculptors and artists Henry Moore, Elisabeth Frink and Barbara Hepworth. Ruskin Show The university’s art school, the Ruskin School of Art, was established by Victorian artist and critic John Ruskin as a drawing school in 1871. Over the course of nearly 150 years, the school has produced many notable artists – including 2012 Turner Prize winner, Elizabeth Price. If you plan to visit Oxford in the summer, don’t miss out on the school’s annual degree show. At the end of the academic year, the installations of the school’s finalist students are opened to the public, presenting some of the UK’s finest young artists. Check the Ruskin School of Art website for details closer to the time. Pontus Silfverstolpe is Co-Founder of Barnebys. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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  1. Hi, would you have the dates for the Ruskin School of Art’s annual degree show? I hadn’t heard of it before but I might be in the area this summer and fancy checking it out.

  2. I’d definitely recommend the Ashmolean museum. So much in there and the best thing of is that entry is free. There’s a decent little cafe and restaurant in there too which was very welcome when I last went because I was desperate for a cuppa and a sit down. Lots of cool antiquities to see and some fascinating art collections.

    I didn’t know you could go to the Ruskin show, that would be interesting to see. Budding artists in the making! I didn’t make it to the Modern Art museum last time either so I’d like to go there the next time I visit.

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