Art & Architecture

The main College buildings, on New Road, were designed to a traditional Cotswold style, and construction began after the Second World War, in 1949. The College also has an important and growing collection of mostly contemporary fine art, along with interesting collections of sculpture, furniture, and silver (much of which belonged to Lord and Lady Nuffield).

Our buildings

The architect of our original buildings was Austen Harrison, assisted by Thomas Barnes and Piers Hubbard. Although the building was designed in 1939-40, owing to war restrictions, work on the site did not begin until 1948. The first meal in Hall was served on 6 June 1958, when the Royal Charter was presented by the Duke of Edinburgh, in the presence of the Founder. The College was completed in 1962.

The distinctive copper-topped College Tower is 100 feet (30.5m) high to the parapet, the top of the spire being 160 feet (49m) above the ground, making it the second tallest tower in Oxford (St Mary’s University Church spire is 200 feet/61m, Magdalen College Tower is 150 feet/46m.) It was the first tower to be built in Oxford for two centuries, and the only truly functional one, housing a large research Library, with attached Reading Rooms above the College entrance. 

The College also has a Chapel which was dedicated in 1961. It was planned with the help of the late John Piper who also designed the altar. It contains fine glass designed by John Piper and executed by Patrick Reyntiens. Its cross and reredos are by Hoskins. To find out more, visit our Chapel Pages

Our art collection

Nuffield’s art collection has developed over the last seven decades and it reflects the College’s history from its very founding and until the present. It tells the story of its founder, Fellows, students, and staff while echoing themes relating to the College’s academic specialism in the field of the social sciences.

The collection was started with works of art that were commissioned before the College’s current building was completed. The first work to be commissioned was a traditional oil portrait of Nuffield’s first Warden, Sir Harold Butler, in 1950. Later that decade, it was decided that a percentage of the College’s construction costs should be spent on commissioning and purchasing works of art, and the College has been fortunate to have received a number of works of art as gifts over the years.

Through a variety of partnerships and public events, the art collection contributes to and supports the College’s mission to act as a bridge between the academic world and the public. Nuffield collaborates with a range of other institutions (including other Oxford colleges and departments, local museums and galleries, and organisations such as Oxford Archaeology and The Oxford Preservation) to hold art-related events, including tours, conversations with artists, and visits to other collections.

The College Art Committee is responsible for the care and development of the art collection and for art talks and events.

Art in College

Each year, the College hold their annual photographic competition. Look out for forthcoming emails and posters giving details and entry deadlines. 

A selection of artwork in the Nuffield College collection can be found on ArtUK