School of Philosophy and Art History


Something Fierce exhibition in the Hex gallery

​Your Essex art experience​

Experiencing artworks first-hand is an important part of studying art history. We offer a wide range of opportunities for visiting galleries and museums throughout your studies.

Our outstanding facilities give you the opportunity for object-based learning, which is rare in other universities, and also enable you to gain curatorial experience.


Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA)

Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is a public accredited museum at the University of Essex. ESCALA has over 700 artworks from 1900 to now, an extensive archive and library, and is based in our new state-of-the-art teaching and research space.

Working closely with our Centre for Curatorial Studies, students have access to the collection as part of teaching and for research, and enjoy a variety of opportunities to work with ESCALA, including through work placements and contributing to its online catalogue.

The collection was founded in 1993 by Professor Dawn Ades CBE, and Professor Valerie Fraser, and is run by two of our alumni, Director Dr Joanne Harwood and Collections Assistant Dr Sarah Demelo.


ESCALA runs an ongoing programme of exhibitions and many artworks are on display across our Colchester Campus. Our students have also worked as guest curators for exhibitions including


ESCALA runs an ongoing public programme of curators’ talks, seminars and symposia, which our students attend and contribute to. The collection also commissions artists’ performances, with previously invited artists including Felipe Ehrenberg, Regina José Galindo, and Cecilia Vicuña.

PINTA, the Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art show

ESCALA has been regularly involved with PINTA, the Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art show since its first London edition in 2010, participating in its Museums Acquisition Programme alongside Tate Modern, Centre Georges Pompidou and the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, as well as contributing to its public programme.

Art Exchange

Art Exchange is our University gallery and runs an ongoing programme of exhibitions of contemporary art, artist and curator talks, as well as hosting exhibitions organised by students from our Centre for Curatorial Studies.

Placing the artist at its core, Art Exchange is a space where art, artists and audiences can meet, offering ways for everyone to get involved and enjoy great art.


firstsite is a large and iconic exhibition venue designed by internationally recognised architect Rafael Viñoly and based in the centre of Colchester.

The gallery runs an ongoing programme of contemporary art exhibitions, as well as film screenings, talks and music events.

firstsite has also hosted exhibitions organised by our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA).

London art world

Essex is just an hour by train from the centre of the London art world. Our students enjoy regular visits to major galleries including Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the National Gallery and Royal Academy of Arts, as well as to the many independent and alternative spaces.

Most undergraduate modules include compulsory gallery visits every year as part of our teaching, with travel to London subsidised by our school.