What's On this summer

With long sunny days ahead, here's a taste of what the gardens, libraries and museums are offering visitors over the coming weeks...

On 29 July the Ashmolean Museum will open its newest exhibition, Tokyo: Art and Culture. Running until 3 January 2022, this exhibition celebrates one of the world’s most creative, dynamic and thrilling cities – Tokyo – and its vibrant arts.  With new commissions by contemporary artists, loans from Japan and treasures from the Ashmolean’s own collections, the show provides a fascinating insight into this cultural hotspot. 

A new interactive family experience, the Ashmolean Adventure (family tickets: £10–18) offers an interactive exploration of some of the museum's most intriguing objects through a variety of multimedia activities, including games and quizzes, sounds and stories, as well as design and drawing activities.

The Pitt Rivers Museum’s newest exhibition, Beyond the Binary: Gender, Sexuality and Power (running until 8 March 2022), puts LGBTIAQ+ stories told by LGBTIAQ+ people at the heart of the museum with the exhibition from its public galleries to its digital databases. The Beyond the Binary project and exhibition forms part of the museum’s ongoing commitment to open up to new voices and perspectives.  

Don’t miss Drag Queen Story Corner on 24 July (11:00–noon) with Asifa Lahor, Britain's first out Muslim drag queen. Asifa will read her heart-warming stories celebrating diverse lives and families. Join online or in person.

Dwelling: In This Space We Breathe by Khadija Saye (1992–2017) launches on 31 August 2021. Widely regarded as an artist of great promise, both Saye and her mother were tragically killed in the Grenfell Tower fire of 14 June 2017. Saye’s silkscreen prints explore her fascination with the ‘migration of traditional Gambian spiritual practices’ that formed part of her childhood experience growing up in London with Gambian parents.

Running throughout the summer months at the History of Science Museum is The Art of Science: the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID vaccine which features a glass sculpture of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine by internationally renowned artist Luke Jerram – already proving hugely popular with visitors.

The Museum of Natural History’s newest exhibition is Meat the Future, a joint venture with Oxford University’s Livestock Environment and People (LEAP) which considers how food production and consumption of animal products affect people and planet.

Sunday 25 July marks the 400th anniversary of Oxford Botanic Garden’s founding with celebrations continuing for 12 months.  A diverse range of events will include its history, horticulture and botanical science along with the arts, food and health and wellbeing benefits associated with plants and gardens. An early evening walk and talk event on Friday 30 July, the Origin of Alcoholic Drinks takes place 4–5.45pm (tickets: £20).

Part of the Botanic Garden since 1963, Harcourt Arboretum comprises the finest collection of trees in Oxfordshire, including some of the oldest redwoods in the UK. The site has seen record numbers of visitors in the last year as residents seek to enjoy outstanding outdoor spaces.

Future events include Forest Bathing (or Shinrin-Yoku), a Japanese tradition encompassing meditation, yoga, periods of rest and relaxation, mindful walking and contemplation, on Sunday 8 August, 11am–2pm (tickets: £35). Or you might choose to spend Saturday 28 August (9am–4pm) with Harcourt’s expert arborists to discover the ancient craft of charcoal burning (tickets: £50).

The Weston Library, the home of the Bodleian Libraries’ special collections, is a working library and research centre, as well as a public event and exhibition space.

Roots to Seeds: 400 years of Oxford Botany marks the four centuries of botanical research and teaching at the University of Oxford. The exhibition, running until 24 October 2021, charts the story of Oxford botany as an ever-changing organism, from its early roots as physic garden in the 17th century to the collaborative research of today.

The Art of Advertising, running until 30 August 2021, tells the story of British advertising, capturing mood and spirit from the mid-18th century to the 1930s through handbills, trade cards, novelties and posters. Advertisements were not made to be preserved, and their chance survival transforms them into unwitting historic documents, often revealing tiny, sometimes unexpected, details of the lives of our ancestors.

You can also get behind the scenes access to one of the oldest working libraries in the world with a guided Old Bodleian Library tour (tickets: £9–12).


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