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 – Syd Shelton: Rock Against Racism

Until 22 November 2020

Visit the exhibition now or enjoy the full online version of this exhibition by clicking here.

Syd Shelton’s photographs capture one of the most intriguing periods in British post-war history. Between 1976 and 1981, the movement Rock Against Racism (RAR) confronted racist ideology in the streets, parks and town halls of Britain. RAR was formed by a collective of musicians and political activists to fight racism and fascism through music.

Under the slogan ‘Love Music, Hate Racism’, it showcased reggae and punk bands on the same stage, attracting large multicultural audiences. Shelton photographed performers such as The Clash, Elvis Costello, The Au Pairs, The Specials and protests such as the Anti National Front Demonstration in Lewisham in 1977.

This exhibition revisits the energy of RAR and the creative alliances that were formed. Shelton’s photographs remind us that Rock Against Racism was a particular treatise on belonging in Britain.

Co-curated by Mark Sealy and Carol Tulloch.


Gallery 3 – Rain Drop to Corporation Pop!

10 October 2020 – Spring 2021

Collection of Glass Water bottles

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.


A child’s rainbow in a window

Oldham’s Lockdown Museum – online exhibition

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.