"Unmissable... a fascinating journey through the art of religions from India to Ireland" – Mary Beard


Why do we think of Jesus Christ with a beard? Or Buddha as cross-legged? Today, the pictures people conjure when they think of the world’s major religions – Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism – are distinctive and immediately recognisable. But two thousand years ago that was not the case.

Between 1–1000 AD, systems of belief developed across Europe and Asia. The images associated with them were forged not in isolation but in a vibrant exchange of ideas and in the contact between different societies and local traditions. One of the earliest known depictions of Christ shows a young man bearing a striking resemblance to a classical god, not the bearded holy-man we know today. Before the invention of the cross-legged figure in meditation, the Buddhist faithful were inspired to worship merely by an impression of the Buddha’s footprints. 

This unprecedented exhibition showcased some of the world’s oldest religious art from India to Ireland, and revealed how the exchange of ideas and objects in the first millennium influence our thinking about the Divine today. On display was the first known depiction of Christ north of the Alps, as well as some of the first surviving Qurans.


UK Schools and FE

UK school groups can visit our temporary exhibitions free of charge. Booking is essential for all group visits.

For more info about school visits and to make a booking enquiry please click here.

We offer teachers a previsit complimentary exhibition ticket. Click here to download teaching notes for this exhibition.

Adult groups

We can organise a special tour of our temporary exhibitions.

Cost: £18 per head inc VAT and exhibition entry (max group size 12)

For more info about adult group visits and to make a booking enquiry please click here.

Note: Group bookings are usually allocated at quieter times eg before 11am or after 2:30 and are limited to 20 people per time slot. We are unable to take bookings for the final two weeks of any of our temporary exhibitions.


Entry is FREE for children under 12 years, and tickets are discounted at 50% for children aged 12–17 years. No booking is required for under 12s.

Download our family trail

For more info about family friendly facilities and our busy events programme please click here.


The Leverhulme Trust has generously funded the Empires of Faith research project.

Exhibition supported by: The Ruddock Foundation for the Arts, The Patrons of the Ashmolean.

Additional support from: The British Museum, The Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research, Wolfson College Oxford, Corpus Christi College Oxford, the Soudavar Memorial Fund, Richard and Jacqueline Worswick.


Those Who Follow: Religious Diversity in Oxford is a free exhibition open from 16 November 2017 until 20 March 2018 at the University of Oxford's Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies. Admission is free.

A photographic journey across Oxford’s modern religious spaces by photographer Arturo Soto, the exhibition is in part an artistic response to the Imagining the Divine exhibition. It brings the incredible histories of art and religious material culture into the present day and showcases the diversity of the Oxford community. Those Who Follow confronts us with buildings we might pass everyday, that are part of our lives but that we don’t often pause to consider.

Click here to find out more



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