SPELLBOUND

Spellbound: Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft

31 Aug 2018 – 6 Jan 2019
 

 
Advance booking is STRONGLY recommended
 

Spellbinding stories, fascinating objects...
from crystal balls and magic mirrors to witch bottles and curse poppets

"Mesmerising"

The Times

"Irresistibly creepy"

The Telegraph

"Bewitching"

The Economist

Explore the history of magic over eight centuries in this immersive and thought-provoking exhibition. The intriguing objects on display show how our ancestors used magical thinking to cope with the unpredictable world around them. They range from the fantastical and macabre (a unicorn’s horn, a human heart encased in lead), the beautiful and mysterious (exquisitely engraved rings to bind a lover and medieval books of ritual magic), to the deeply moving confessions of women accused of witchcraft.

The exhibition asks us to examine our own beliefs and rituals, and aims to show how, even in this sceptical age, we still use magical thinking and why we might need a bit of magic in our lives.

To illuminate the links between past and present, specially commissioned works by contemporary artists provide dramatic responses to the themes of the show, conjuring demons, flames and the scuttling of malignant spirits.

This exhibition is ticketed. Entry is free for Ashmolean Members.

BOOKING IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT

 

"Remarkable"

The Financial Times

"Spellbound promises to be one of the Ashmolean’s most intriguing and unusual exhibitions"

Philip Pullman

 

"Fascinating"

The Art Newspaper

EXHIBITION HIGHLIGHTS

 

VISITING AND TICKETS

Timed tickets are in operation. Full price adult tickets are £12.25 each.

BOOKING IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT

DISCOUNTED ENTRY

Entry is FREE, and no booking is required, for: children under 12 years; University of Oxford students; and Members of the Ashmolean.

Tickets are discounted at 50% for: those under 25; students; children aged 12–17 years; and Art Fund Members.

Concession tickets are available for: senior citizens: those who are unemployed; and University of Oxford staff & alumni.


UK school groups can visit our temporary exhibitions free of charge. We offer teachers a previsit complimentary exhibition ticket. Booking is essential.

Contact the Education team to arrange your visit (education.service@ashmus.ox.ac.uk)

TELEPHONE BOOKING

The fastest way to book exhibition tickets is online. Click on the 'Buy Tickets' button above to visit our online booking pages.

To book exhibition tickets by telephone please call 01865 278 112.

FAMILY VISITS

Entry is FREE for children under 12 years and no ticket is required. Tickets are required for children aged 12–17 years and these are discounted at 50%.

Some content in the exhibition may be unsuitable for younger children.

A family trail will be available at the entrance to the exhibition.

CLICK HERE to enter our 'Magical Stories' short story competition, open to those aged 18 and under.

LATE EXHIBITION OPENINGS

The exhibition will be open late, until 8pm, on the following dates:

Friday 5 January
Saturday 6 January

EXHIBITION EVENTS

Exhibition Tours

Wednesdays 3.30–4.15pm
Free with the price of admission, no additional booking required

SPONSORS AND CURATORS

The Ashmolean would like to thank the exhibition sponsors for their generous support

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bagri Foundation  |  The Wellcome Trust  |  University of East Anglia

The Spellbound Magic Circle: Philip & Jude Pullman; Dasha Shenkman OBE, HonRCM; and others who wish to remain anonymous

The Patrons of the Ashmolean

The research on this subject under the title “Inner Lives: Emotions, Identity and the Supernatural, 1300 -1900” was generously funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Click here to find out more about the research.

Exhibition Curators

Lead Curators:
Dr Sophie Page, University College London
Professor Marina Wallace, Director, Artakt Associate

Curators:
Owen Davies, Professor of Social History, University of Hertfordshire
Malcolm Gaskill, Professor of Early Modern History, University of East Anglia
Ceri Houlbrook MA PhD, University of Hertfordshire

We thank the artists who have worked with the curatorial team on developing new installations:
Ackroyd & Harvey
Annie Cattrell
Katharine Dowson

Exhibition design by Stanton Williams in collaboration with the Ashmolean

LEARNING

Click here to download the PDF teaching notes for this exhibition

CATALOGUE

An illustrated exhibition catalogue is available to buy at the Museum and online.

Click here to buy online

PRESS

For press releases and images, or to contact the Press Office, please click here

IMAGES

Human Heart and Witches Ladder © Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford
Prognosticator and John Dee’s Purple Crystal © Science Museum, London
The Discovery of Witches 1647 © Queens College, Oxford
Poppet © Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, Boscastle
Opthalmodouleia © Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
Love Ring © Victora and Albert Museum, London
Three Witches © Lambeth Palace Library
Microcosmic Man © Wellcome Library, London
Helen Duncan's 'Ectoplasm' © Cambridge University Library

List of site pages