Oxford University is replacing some portraits of famous men with female, black and gay leaders to counter its ‘male, pale and stale’ image.
It is commissioning artists to paint dozens of new portraits to hang in its ancient buildings at a cost of £900 each.
Stickers with the words ‘next in frame’ have been put up around Oxford, asking students and staff to nominate suitable subjects by the end of this week.
In addition, colleges are already redecorating dining and lecture halls with new pictures and photographs to reflect the diversity of their alumni.
Pictures of author Jonathan Swift, 16th century poet John Donne and bible translator William Tyndale were all removed. And portraits of TV presenter Natasha Kaplinsky, author Hari Kunzru and journalist Naomi Wolf have been put up.
Oxford University said yesterday its Diversifying Portraiture project – aimed at recognising the ‘diversity of figures’ who have helped shape the institution – was launched after a successful funding bid in May 2014.
It said: ‘In the first phase, we collected more than 250 portraits already on display around Oxford, depicting pioneering individuals who challenged the stereotypes and preconceptions of their times.’
The university added in a statement: ‘The second phase is now well under way.
‘We have asked the University community for suggestions for 25 fresh portraits of living figures connected to Oxford, representing our diversity in gender, race, disability and LGBTQ identity.