Museum & Art Gallery, Birmingham
Familiarly known as BMAG, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is a large Victorian building that opened in 1885 and has the world's largest Pre-Raphaelite collection along with other paintings, silverware, sculpture, metal-wares, glass, ceramics, and wooden objects, ethnographical and archaeological collections. The museum is now also home to the Staffordshire Hoard, the largest buried hoard of Anglo Saxon gold ever found and worth £3.3 million. There is also the Edwardian Tea Room and Museum shop.
Grade II Listed
Saturday to Thursday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Friday: 10:30 am to 5:00 pm
Admission free (but donations are advised).
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I have previously visited this museum and art gallery twice on past visits. I was looking forward making a return visit especially to exhibits I haven't yet visited. The museum was opened in 1885 by Richard Tangye and Joseph Chamberlain, a industrialist and a politician respectively, who wanted to inspire local manufacturers to produce high quality goods via showcasing work of successful designs and craftsmanship. Today the museum houses a diverse collections from the humanities disciplines from art work to industrial history.
First of all I had tea at its lovely Edwardian Tea Room. Afterwards, I looked at the Gothic architecture exhibition which included objects relating to A W N Pugin, a designer in Gothic architecture, and also looked at human figures linking to Immanuel Kant (1724-1824), a Prussian Philosopher during the Romantic Era, who believed they are 'the ideal of beauty'. I enjoyed the William Morris's stained glass windows featuring the four seasons and the minster figures playing musical instruments.
The highlight of this visit was visiting the 'Birmingham: its people, its history' galleries. The galleries were opened officially in October 2012 by a local artist. This permanent collection it's one of the best exhibitions I ever visited and they draw the city's history and sociology from the medieval beginnings to becoming the UK's second city. I must have spent a couple of hours taking in the interesting exhibits. I've done a separate travelogue about my visit to the galleries themselves.
As well as the galleries there is a lovely museum shop where I bought some things in remembrance of my visit. I highly recommend visiting the museum for its diverse collections and it's free of charge although donations are encouraged.
Before going to the Museum and Art Gallery I wondered how long it would occupy me, as I had a whole day to myself and wasn't sure how to fill it.
There was more than enough to see and do there, in fact I didnt get to see it all as it houses such vast collections. It included a wonderful gallery of pre-Raphaelite paintings, another of Asian statues, ceramics. An interactive area where you can create your own stained glass pictures etc... there are over 500,000 objects to look at..... 'Aspects of China' was a permanent gallery of Chinese art. It features 70 pieces of modern dress, textiles, ceramics and handcrafted objects made by China’s ethnic minority groups.
The huge ceilinged Victorian styled restaurant serves great meals and snacks all day, so you don't even need to leave the building.
Steve McCurry had a 'retrospective' of his amazing photographs whilst I was there, in the Whitehall Gallery. Stunning, shocking, surprising, courageous and cunning. I will need two days next time. Thankfully it is open on Sundays until 5pm.
What a wonderful resource for the city.
The city has an excellent (if a little small for such a big city) museum and art gallery.
There are plenty of exhibits of local interest as well as some outstanding world class paintings hanging in the well appointed galleries.
The paintings are grouped into art by century which makes it very easy to follow especially for those of us who are not "experts" in the field of art.
Among the paintings I admired in my most recent visit in November 2009 were those by David Roberts, Canaleto, Constable and the Pre-Raphaelite collection that Birmingham art gallery is most famous for.
There are also very good exhibits from Egyptian, Greek, Roman and native Americans on diisplay.
There is no admission charge but all donations are welcomed.
There is an excellent shop and cafe on site and the usual facilities (cloak room, toilets, etc).
The first part of the Museum & art Gallery was opened back in 1885 and formed part of the Council House. Sharing building space with the council was at first advantageous - as the city grew and the need for expansion of the Council buildings, so did the gallery - by the 1920s the museum had more than 40 rooms (as opposed to the original 4). But it became disadvantageous in the 1950s - ongoing repairs resulting from bomb damage meant that the museum shrank in size as the council requisitioned space.
But the 1980s expansion and renovations has resulted in an impressive museum of the history of the city and the industrial revolution in particular, with the gallery, whilst not 'up there' with some of the great regional galleries of the world, is well represented in the applied arts (ceramics in particular) and has one of the biggest collections of Pre-Raphaelites in the world.
Open Monday-Thursday & Saturday, 10am-5pm: Friday 10.30am-5pm: Sunday 12.30pm-5pm
Excellent collection of pre-Raphaelites, probably the best in the world. Also some wonderful 19th/20th century stuff. The only thing that spoils the place is the patronising temporary exhibitions they have (which no doubt gets them their Arts Council funding)....and the really crap website and shop (must try harder on both counts, the collection deserves it!)
This gallery is in the Birmingham City Centre, I always remember going here as a young child everytime we had the 6 weeks school holidays with either my Auntie or my Grandad. Even at a young age I would aleays be fascinated by the many aspects of art than you can see in this gallery. I guess from a young age I always have had a fondness for art aswell. The Gallery itself is famous for its Pre-Raphaelite collection. You can see all types of great displays of great works by the Baroque artists from France, Holland, and Italy. Also in the Gallery you can see also different types of contemporary work on display. There is also an eclectic collection including silver, sculptures, and ceramics.
While there, be sure not to miss the archaeology, natural history, and social history exhibits in the museum. There are some great artifacts on Egypt aswell, which I was always in amaze at at a young age when we used to go there for school trips, That always used to be my favourite part. Then again always took me around 10 mins to walk up to the actuall glass container (yes I knew exactly when it was coming everytime - I had a good memory at a young age) and actually get the guts to look into it - what can i say? I watched a lot of films about Mummys at a young age!
Opening Hours:Mon-Thu, Sat 10am-5pm; Fri 10:30am-5pm; Sun noon-5pm
Birmingham has long had a College of Art.
This lovely Victorian building was designed by J.H.Chamberlain just before his death in 1851. Another architect, W.Martin, oversaw the building of the Institute between 1851 to 1855.
The College is now part of the University of Central England.
I went to the Gas Hall to see the wonderful "Turner's Britain" exhibition. There were so many unusual paintings and drawing brought together it gave you a new insight into this artist. I had thought only of his seascapes and industrial paintings prior to this exhibition. I had not expected all his landscape and technical architectural drawings and sketches, neither had I expected to learn so much about his friends and politics. One learnt, through the works on show, about his commercial side; his poor childhood; who commissioned his works and something of his meteroric rise in stature.
The Gas Hall was originally the place where Birmingham residents came to pay their gas bills in the Victorial period when gas was manufactured and sold by the local council and not by private profit-making utilities as now. It has been converted into a large open space with a cast iron roof and lots of natural lighting from the roof, and is now used for special exhibitions. There was a charge for this one but many of the exhibitions in the Gas Hall are free.
We made a special trip into Birmingham to see "The Holy Grail Tapestries" Exhibition held in The Gas Hall. The Birmingham Musuem & Art Gallery has a very large collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings, tapestries and stained glass windows. This exhibition had gathered other works from around the world and also tapestries from their own store which had not been seen by the public since 1998 and would go straight back to the museums conservators before being moved back again into store.
Check out Birmingham Musuem & Art Gallery and Gas Hall's exhibitons.
Some stunning works of art are located here, and the museum has a great mix on natural history, local history and archaelogy, a great way to spend a few hours. The building is pretty impressive too...