Exhibitions

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.

Current Exhibitions

Gallery 1 – Oldham StoriesAmerican Eagle Owl

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 – The Art of the Everyday

18 May 2021 – 26 June 2021

Art of the Everyday shows a diverse range of artworks by artists from Manchester Academy of Fine Art (MAFA).

We decided upon the theme of “the everyday” last year, when we couldn’t have begun to imagine how drastically our everyday lives would change. Since the artists began to work on this exhibition the Covid pandemic has affected every aspect of life as we know it. This is reflected in the drawings, prints, sculpture and paintings of the 53 artists taking part in the exhibition.

Artist Colin Taylor’s ‘Last day in Manchester’ shows eerily empty streets of the city centre, Alison Diamond Rogers’ ‘Holding Hands’ feels very different from if we’d looked at this a year ago. 

Find out more about this exhibition, download the exhibition catalogue and take a look at our series of behind-the-scenes studio films as well as pastel and woodcut workshops by visiting The Art of Everyday webpage.


Gallery 3 – Rain Drop to Corporation Pop!

Collection of Glass Water bottles

10 October 2020 – 12 June 2021

This exhibition has a very watery feel, exploring water from the start of its journey in the clouds through all freshwater aquatic environments using objects chosen from across the Gallery’s collection.

Water is an essential element for all life that has ever lived on the planet and makes up important part of our local wildlife habitats. Come and see beautiful paintings portraying rivers, lakes and canals displayed alongside ancient fossil fish and an array of present-day aquatic creatures. A special attraction is the fossil skeleton of an Ichthyosaur a dolphin-like creature from Jurassic times. This is the largest fossil in our geological collections.

Oldham became the most important spinning town in the world because it is nestled high in the hills making the most of the damp climate so necessary to spin the best cotton yarn. Water collected in newly constructed reservoirs was important for an expanding human population to ensure good health and hygiene as well as textile processing.

Water has a special attraction to us for leisure activities, swimming, boating and fishing to name just a few. Amazing fish trophy mounts donated by Oldham Central Angling Club will be displayed together with swimming memorabilia.


Oldham’s Lockdown Museum – online exhibition

A child’s rainbow in a window

Oldham’s Lockdown Museum is a new 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.


Coming soon….in 2021

Benedict Phillips

Benedict Philips in Red Hat in front of blackboard
The Red DIV, 2011 by Benedict Philips
© Benedict Philips

We present Benedict Phillips’ first large scale exhibition of contemporary art and performance.

Benedict is “very good at being disleksick” and his work concentrates on his experiences of living in a leksick world. Benedict has been exploring social and political ideas of difference through photography, sculpture, performance and video since 1995, when his ‘Agenda of the Aggressive Dyslexic was published.

Benedict says Exploring and communicating through doing and making images is fundamental to human nature despite the text heavy society that we live in. My work is deadly serious about some flippant attitudes within society and deliberately provocative and humorous about the harsh experiences of this life”.