New art installation on Broad Street

Copyright: History of Science Museum

The ‘Tomorrow’s Oxford Heads’ art installation was commissioned and organised in collaboration between the History of Science Museum and the School of Geography and the Environment, and was supported by the University's Diversity Fund and the Van Houten Fund.

Tomorrow’s Oxford Heads

Two new faces have now been added to the iconic sculpted heads lining the railings on Broad Street. These heads, representing women from different ethnic backgrounds, have been temporarily mounted on plinths outside the History of Science Museum, and will complement an interactive art installation. This interactive exhibit features a large pink head, which visitors can walk under to hear the ‘voices’ of the busts on the railings. The artists will be there constructing the installation from 19–21 June, and they encourage the public to stop by to find out more.

Members of the community are invited to give their responses to the question ‘How can we diversify public sculpture to better represent the people in today’s University of Oxford?’ by submitting written responses through the post boxes in the plinths under the temporary busts in front of the History of Science Museum. Ideas can also be put forward on Twitter using the hashtag #DiversifyingPublicSculpture.

For those who want to express their ideas in a more visual format, the museum will be hosting a free clay modelling workshop on 22 June, 1 - 4pm. Open to all, the public are invited to sculpt their own version of a head, or something else, which would add diversity to the ancient stone heads. There will be tips on clay modelling and inspiration from the work of contemporary artists. The sculptures will be put on display inside the museum while the temporary heads are on display outside, as part of the conversation about what is possible for the future of Oxford.

To find out more, visit the History of Science Museum website.

Oxford Stone Heads: History and Mysteries

Across the street from these new Broad Street art installations you can discover Oxford's Stone Heads: History and Mysteries, at the Weston Library until 21 July 2019.

Not much is known about the 13 sculpted heads that have lined Broad Street for 350 years. The current heads, thought to represent ancient philosophers or emperors, are the third set of busts that have occupied the space. Despite their historical and cultural value, the first two sets of heads were never fully recorded and their whereabouts remained largely unknown for many years. Heritage Scientists at the School of Geography and the Environment have been learning about the history of the emperors' heads - exploring the Bodleian's archival records, hunting for missing first and second generation heads, and testing the old stone to inform conservation efforts. To find out more about the science, history and Weston Library display visit our Heritage Heads webpage.