Gallery Oldham: Collections

Gallery Oldham’s Fine Art collection consists of over 550 oil paintings, ranging from pre-Raphaelite and late Victorian artists to post-war painting, including Pop and Abstract art.

Of particular interest is the Charles Lees Collection of oil paintings, watercolours, drawings and engravings, presented to the town in 1888. With special thanks to Art UK, all of the Gallery’s oil paintings can now be viewed online.

The Gallery also hosts several exhibitions in its Community Gallery and Foyer during the year. Current exhibitions include:

Gallery 1: This gallery permanently houses both the Oldham Stories Exhibition and te Community Gallery. The Oldham Stories exhibition, features 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, displays a wide range of exhibitions by groups and individuals from the Borough of Oldham.

Other exhibitions

 Gallery 2: Art of the Everyday, 18 May – 26 June 2021 – The Gallery began began planning this exhibition with MAFA (Manchester Academy of Fine Art) in 2019, including agreeing the title. At this stage it could not have begun to imagine how our “everyday” would change in the course of a few months.

In some ways this exhibition is about noticing the details which we may have taken for granted before. It also documents a new way of living, for example the ideas of home schooling or keeping in touch with family via video calling instead of being in the same space to share laughter and hugs. Some artists have used daily walks as an opportunity to develop their drawing skills and capture the landscape around them, others captured activities that have helped their mental wellbeing, cooking, sitting in the garden or escaping to a bath.

All works in this exhibition are for sale. A Digital Catalogue is available

To accompany the Art of the Everyday exhibition Gallery Oldham is running a programme of digital activities. See here for more information.

To find out more about MAFA and the 110 diverse painters, sculptors and printmakers who make up this art society go to the MAFA website, you can also follow the group on Instagram @mafaartists, Facebook and Twitter @MAFAartists.


Gallery 3: Rain Drop to Corporation Pop!, 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.


Further information:
  • Opening times: from 18 May 2021,  Tuesday – Saturday 10.00 am – 5.00 pm
  • Location: Gallery Oldham, Oldham Cultural Quarter, Greaves Street, Oldham OL1 1AL
  • Free admission
  • Contact 0161 770 4653