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JCR Art Collection

Pembroke was the first college in Oxford to have it’s own art gallery, and our collection now consists of over 250 pieces. Some of these pieces are available for rent for students’ rooms at the beginning of each term.


A Bit of History​

The JCR Art Collection was established in 1947 by Anthony Emery, a mature undergraduate who came to Pembroke to read History following his return from WWI. While imprisoned during the war, Emery and some of his friends staged a parody of the infamours 1938 London International Surrealist Exhibition which had been Britain’s first taste of avant garde art. 

The exhibition and the artists involved were challenging and strange – Salvador Dali opened the exhibition by delivering a lecture in a full diving suit…According to Emery, the parody fell flat because only a very small handful of his fellow prisoners had even heard of Surrealism. The caused Emery to try to think of way to combat what he called ‘the ignorance of the majority about the art of their own time’.

This lead to his suggestion to the JCR at Pembroke to set up an art gallery. The fact that the JCR enthusiastically embraced Emery’s idea is almost as extraordinary as the idea itself. Students agreed to have £1 per term added to their battels in order to create a fund for the purchase of art – this at a time when money was extraordinarily scarce.

In 1997, the JCR decided to transform the Art Collection into a registered charity known as THE PEMBROKE COLLEGE JCR ART COLLECTION FUND. The Francis Bacon that was bought in 1953 for £150 was sold for £400,000 to endow the charity and facilitate its mission of relieving student hardship (hardship grants), supporting student charitable endeavours (our travel grants), acquiring new works of art, and maintaining the existing Collection.




The Friends of Pembroke Art is a project launched by the Pembroke College JCR Art Fund to encourage an interest in art in the College by putting on events, workshops and trips every term.

Anyone can join- all you need is an interest in or a desire to know more about art. Whether you are a undergraduate student, graduate student, alumni, staff member or simply interested in the art collection at Pembroke we would like you to be a part of this new and exciting venture!

Here is a link to the facebook page:


And look out for emails about arty events going on throughout the year!

Virtual Gallery