Life & Style

The unmissable exhibitions in Oxford and beyond this spring

Oxford city boasts world-class museums and some truly fantastic art galleries and contemporary art spaces. From The Ashmolean to Modern Art Oxford, our invaluable guide to the unmissable exhibitions in Oxford and beyond tells you what to see, where, this spring.

Jeff Koons Exhibition at the Ashmolean Oxford

Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons has been called the world’s most famous, controversial and subversive living artist. This major exhibition offers an exciting journey through a career that has pushed at the boundaries of contemporary art.

From the moment he burst onto the scene with floating basketballs and ready-made objects to his recent re-working of classical statues and Old Master paintings, Jeff Koons has, at turns, delighted, shocked and intrigued his viewers.

Jeff Koons at The Ashmolean is on until 09 June.

Image: Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

Also at The Ashmolean

Lui Shou-Kwan Centenary Exhibition at The Ashmolean Oxford

Lui Shou-Kwan Centenary Exhibition

Lui Shou-Kwan (1919–1975) was one of the most significant artists in Hong Kong during the mid-twentieth century. The paintings in this exhibition marking the anniversary of his birth are from the Ashmolean’s own collection.

Two themes, in particular, dominate the output of the painter Lui Shou-Kwan: landscapes and spirituality. During the 1960s and 1970s, these caught the imagination of many as examples of authentic contemporary Hong Kong.

Lui Shou-Kwan Centenary Exhibition at The Ashmolean is on until 07 April.

Image: Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
Surimono Poetry Prints Exhibition at The Ashmolean Oxford

Plum Blossom and Green Willow: Surimono Poetry Prints

Some of the finest examples of Japanese printmaking in the early nineteenth century were the exquisitely printed woodblock prints called surimono (‘printed objects’).

This exhibition highlights rarely shown surimono from the Ashmolean’s collections, including a number of new acquisitions, offering a rare insight into Japanese literati culture and customs of the early nineteenth century.

Surimono Poetry Prints Display at The Ashmolean is on until 17 March.

Image: Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
Bacterial World Exhibition E-coli Sculpture at Museum of Natural History Oxford

Bacterial World

Science is lifting the lid on the secret lives of bacteria – and revealing how the smallest of organisms are the key to understanding ourselves and some of our biggest questions.

Bacterial World is a special exhibition at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History supported by a rich programme of events for audiences of all ages. A programme calendar is available to download here.

Bacterial World at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History is on until 28 May.

The 28-metre long inflatable E. coli sculpture in the image above was created by artist Luke Jerram in collaboration with researchers from the University of Sheffield, who loaned it to the Museum for the Bacterial World exhibition.

Image: Museum of Natural History, University of Oxford
The Young Turner Exhibition at Blenheim Palace Oxfordshire
Image: Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

The Young Turner

Ambitions in Architecture and the Art of Perspective

Turner painted ‘Blenheim, Oxfordshire’ in 1833 for his 'Picturesque Views in England and Wales' series. This exhibition presents some of the artist's first commissions and most celebrated topographical works, focusing on his increasing expertise in depicting architecture and perspective from the 1780s - 1810s.

Among the loans from the Ashmolean, Tate and other private collections are Turner’s first sketchbook and diagrams from his Royal Academy lectures in perspective, which have rarely been exhibited before.

The Young Turner exhibition at Blenheim Palace is on until 22 April.

Penny Woolcock: Fantastic Cities Exhibition at Modern Art Oxford

Penny Woolcock: Fantastic Cities

Fantastic Cities is the first major art exhibition of artist and director Penny Woolcock, an unparalleled pioneer in contemporary visual culture in the UK, celebrated for her creatively incisive approach to exploring issues of social inequality.

Fantastic Cities presents ‘parallel worlds’ through intimate accounts of real urban experiences that often go unheard, at times layered together with fantastical tales from literature, film and music

Penny Woolcock: Fantastic Cities at Modern Art Oxford is on until 03 March.

Image: Modern Art Oxford
Intrepid Women Exhibition at Pitt Rivers Museum Oxford

Intrepid Women

Fieldwork in Action, 1910-1957

This exhibition focuses on six of the Pitt Rivers Museum’s most important female collectors, and their fieldwork carried out between 1910 and the late 1950s.

It is a unique opportunity to see objects and photographs resulting from their travels, as well as original archival material and film on display for the first time.

Intrepid Women at the Pitt Rivers Museum is on until 11 March.

Image: Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford

And further afield

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams Exhibition at V&A Museum London

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams

On until 14 July

Image: Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Pierre Bonnard The Colour of Memory

On until 06 May

Image: Pierre Bonnard, Coffee, 1915, Tate

Elizabethan Treasures

On until 14 July

Image: National Portrait Gallery, London