Current and upcoming exhibitions

Current exhibitions

Image of a Suffrage postcard

Sappho to Suffrage: women who dared

6 March 2018 - 24 February 2019

Weston Library, Oxford

Pirates and poets; suffragettes and explorers - exhibition celebrating the achievements of women who dared to do the unexpected. Sappho to Suffrage showcases some of the Bodleian's most remarkable and treasured items.

Current displays

 PHI sidebar

Story of Phi: Restricted Books

15 November 2018 - 13 January 2019

Blackwell Hall, Weston Library

In the Victorian age, the Bodleian created a restricted category for obscene books, known as phi. This display, showcasing many items never previously exhibited, explores changing ideas about censorship and sexuality.

 Image of Wilfred Owen

Wilfred Owen: The Pity of War

26 October - 16 December 2018

Proscholium, Bodleian Library

As the Armistice bells were ringing on 11 November 1918, Wilfred Owen’s parents received a telegram informing them that their son had been killed in action, one of 17 million casualties of the War to end all Wars. To commemorate this centenary the Bodleian is displaying a selection of original manuscripts, photographs and family possessions from the Library’s unique Owen archive.

 Upcoming exhibitions

Image of Turis Babel Kirchner tower in black and white

Babel: adventures in translation

15 February - 2 June 2019

ST Lee Gallery, Weston Library

Babel: Adventures in Translation takes visitors beyond the ancient myth of the Tower of Babel and society's quest for a universal language to explore the ubiquity and power of translation in the movement of ideas, stories and cultural practices around the world.

Through a stunning selection of objects ranging from a second century papyrus book and illuminated manuscripts to animal stories, religious books and a bilingual road sign, Babel explodes the notion that translation is merely about word-for-word rendering into another language, or that it is obsolete in the era of global English and Google Translate. Treasures from the Bodleian Libraries' collections, both ancient and modern, illustrate how stories have travelled across time, territory, language and medium.

Highlights on show include a 4000-year-old bowl inscribed with a language that still resists deciphering, an unpublished Tolkien notebook revealing how he experimented with Esperanto before creating his fictional Elvish languages, and an experimental 1950s computer programme designed to generate love letters. Exploring themes of multiculturalism and identity, the exhibition considers issues that are more relevant than ever as Britain approaches Brexit. It also tackles the tricky question of how to translate for the distant future. 

Photograph of the Jain map

Talking Maps

5 July 2019 - 1 March 2020

ST Lee Gallery, Weston Library

Every map tells a story. Talking Maps is a celebration of maps and what they tell us about the places they depict and the people that make and use them.

Drawing on the Bodleian's unparalleled collection of more than 1.3 million maps, this exhibition brings together an extraordinary selection of ancient, pre-modern and contemporary maps from a range of cultures and in a variety of formats as well as showcasing fascinating imaginary, fictional and war maps.

Talking Maps explores how maps are neither transparent objects of scientific communication, nor baleful tools of ideology, but proposals about the world that help people to understand who they are by describing where they are.

 Upcoming Displays

Black and white image of cupid - Vet.F1 c.87

Love and the soul

5 January - 10 March 2019

Proscholium, Bodleian Library

This display will explore the rich inspiration that the delightful second-century Latin love-story of Cupid and Psyche by Apuleius has provided for book-illustrators since the invention of printing – above all for William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones.

Image of a book-coffer box

Thinking inside the box

19 January - 17 February 2019

Blackwell Hall, Weston Library

A display of boxes, bags, and satchels used for carrying books at different times and places – inspired by the recent acquisition of a book-coffer from 15th-century medieval Paris.

British comics frame by frame

23 February - 28 April 2019

Blackwell Hall, Weston Library

Join us to explore the evolution of the British comic, from graphic images of apocalypse in medieval block books to the anarchy of V for Vendetta and the inventiveness of indie comics today.

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