Gallery Oldham has three large exhibition spaces plus a community gallery.
We take an innovative and unique approach to exhibition programming, bringing together what were once separate museum and gallery services.
Our programming incorporates Oldham’s extensive art, social and natural history collections alongside touring work, newly commissioned and contemporary art, international art and work produced with local communities.
In addition we have permanent displays around the building.
Gallery 1 – Oldham Stories
This gallery permanently houses both:
Oldham Stories exhibition, featuring selected objects from our extensive collections to tell and show the stories of Oldham and its local communities. From birds and shells to a recreation of an Edwardian chemist’s shop, every object has a fascinating tale to tell. The display features local figures such as suffragette Annie Kenny, the pioneering natural history collector James Nield and the popular artist Helen Bradley.
The Community Gallery, which has a wide range of exhibitions by groups and individuals from the Borough of Oldham.
Gallery 2 – Legacies of Biafra
23 October – 26 February 2021
This multimedia exhibition commemorates the 50th anniversary of the end of the Nigeria-Biafra war, providing a timely reflection on the ongoing impact of the war. The exhibition considers how one of the first civil wars in post-independence Africa has influenced the perception of the continent internationally whilst examining the legacies of war visible in the social and political structures within Nigeria.
The exhibition features works predominantly from the artistic collective Nigeria Art Society UK (NASUK), which will be exhibited alongside archival materials on the war and a selection of short films. Find out more about Legacies of Biafra and NASUK on this exhibition page.
Gallery 3 – The National Gallery Masterpiece Tour: Degas’s Hélène Rouart in her Father’s Study
18 September 2021 – 8 January 2022
The title of Degas’ Hélène Rouart in her Father’s Study suggests that it is a portrait of a young woman. When you look more closely, however, the stories the painting tells are all about Hélène’s father, Henri Rouart. Our exhibition asks: Is this really a portrait of Hélène, or of her father?
This is the starting point for an exploration of the ways in which women are represented within our art collections. Gallery Oldham holds many portraits in which the woman is not named. Sometimes she is described as “wife” or “daughter”, sometimes the title completely ignores the fact there is a woman in the portrait at all. We are using this exciting National Gallery partnership as a starting point to try to uncover the identities of some of these sitters, and to find out more about those who we know little.
Oldham’s Lockdown Museum – online exhibition
Oldham’s Lockdown Museum is a digital project to collect a snapshot of what life is like in our local area during the Covid-19 pandemic.
We’d love to share your experiences and ideas, and see pictures (photographs or drawings/paintings) or films of the objects that sum them up, whatever they are.
Each week we will set a theme for you to respond to. You are also welcome to send us Lockdown related images which don’t relate to the themes. We will exhibit our favourite entries in Oldham’s Lockdown Museum the following week so make sure that you check back here soon. To find out more about how to enter and this week’s theme click here.
Zarah Hussain: Light Upon Light | 22 January – 14 May 2022
Zarah Hussain is a contemporary artist based in London. She was born in Macclesfield in 1980. Zarah Hussain works at the intersection of science and spirituality. She combines contemporary digital art with rigorous training in traditional hand-drawn Islamic geometry. She has spent her career exploring the ways in which she can apply the principles of Islamic geometric design to contemporary art, using new technologies and materials.
We are delighted to present 12 new pieces of wall-based sculpture, alongside drawings and the light installation Invisible Threads, which was made in 2018. Invisible Threads is an ever-changing design which has an infinite number of colour combinations, so it appears different every time you see it.
Landscape Inside Out | March 5 – June 4
Liz Ackerley and Hugh Winterbottom present their first joint large-scale exhibition, exploring the local landscapes from their home in Mossley. Moorland, woodland and the valleys are the focus of their explorations.
Both artists spend a lot of time working outside as well as in the studio. They bring into the gallery the atmospheric feeling of the landscape that they both know so well. The collaboration enables two very different, complementary ways of experiencing and interpreting the same landscapes. Hugh’s oil paintings create depth and atmosphere by observing colour and light. Liz’s dynamic mixed media paintings explore the rich visual language of vistas and details.
Image Credit: Fleeting Moment, Lasting Memories by Liz Ackerley