What to see when our museums and art galleries reopen to the public

What to see when our museums and art galleries reopen to the public

It's fair to say that it’s been a sobering time for our cultural institutions. Here's what to see when our museums and art galleries reopen to the public.

Museums and art galleries in Oxford and across Oxfordshire were closed for several months during the spring of 2020 until a brief period in summer when they were able to reopen before being closed once again at the end of December.

In the government’s four-step roadmap to remove lockdown restrictions, museums and art galleries in Oxfordshire can reopen on Monday 17 May. So while shops and libraries can open from Monday 12 April, we’ll have to wait another month after that until we can return to our favourite collections and explore new exhibitions for the first time.

Commercial galleries, however, are permitted to reopen five weeks earlier, from 12 April onwards. Mask wearing, advanced booking, and social distancing measures are set to remain in place until at least 21 June.

It's fair to say that it has been a sobering time for our cultural institutions. Revenues have plummeted, staff have been made redundant, and exhibition budgets have been cut. Despite financial assistance from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund, it may take several years for them to recover.

During the lockdown, our cultural curiosity has been met by online tours and virtual lectures. So when museums can reopen, we should all support them as much as we can – booking tickets, meeting friends there, and perhaps, spending a little more time in the gift shop than usual.

Forthcoming exhibitions for 2021 include the Per-Rapaelites at The Ashmolean and New Liberia at Modern Art Oxford.

Alchemy is an inaugural solo exhibition of abstract paintings by Oxford-based artist Rosannagh Scarlet Esson. Alchemy brings together Rosannagh's dynamic explorations into the chemistry of paint, metals, pigment and the elements, including brand new works produced at her studio in the past year in lockdown.

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on form exhibition of sculpture in stone is a biennial event that normally takes places in the even years (2018, 2020…) using the grounds and a few of the interiors at Asthall Manor as a backdrop. Due to the closure in 2020, they are planning to open the gardens for on form unlocked in May 2021.

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Following the sudden cancellation of Fresh Work in 2020, Elaine Kazimierczuk takes advantage of the light and space at the North Wall Gallery to present Re-Fresh - a major exhibition showcasing several large, dramatic works.

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The new The Churchill Exhibition at Blenheim Palace will feature a mix of historic artefacts and new technology, documenting key aspects of the adventurous life of Sir Winston Churchill, the famous wartime leader and writer. With photographs, letters, artefacts and excerpts from his most famous speeches, you'll gain a real sense of our ‘Greatest Briton’.

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Blenheim Palace is hosting a range of iconic photographs by British fashion and portrait photographer Cecil Beaton. Beaton is best known for his elegant photographs of high society and was a familiar guest at the Palace, attending parties and weekend breaks alongside a host of aristocrats, artists and writers.

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From a sketch on the back of an envelope to grand, elaborate chalk drawings, this major exhibition at The Ashmolean will offer a rare glimpse into its internationally-renowned collection of Pre-Raphaelite works along with the artists associated with the movement.

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For his largest solo exhibition, Samson Kambalu’s powerful installation creates the atmosphere of an initiation ceremony for a utopia of international racial justice that equally values each person. This idea of a ‘New Liberia’ marks a mass change in attitudes, sparked by the pandemic and global Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.

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Seeun came to the UK in 2016 and completed an MA at the Royal College of Art. The OXFORD PROJECT is the result of her time there. Using jewellery and metal objects, the OXFORD PROJECT seeks to examine some of the diverse social issues in today’s society.

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