Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery - A Birmingham Gem!

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is situated in Chamberlain Square, and first opened in 1885. The gallery was extended in 1911, and is above the Council House. Home of Big Brum clocktower.


Where is Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery?

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is at Chamberlain Square, Birmingham, B3 3DH. Also a side entrance on Edmund Street. Formerly an entrance on Great Charles Street Queensway (closed to the public since 2015).

 

In brief

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery first opened to the public at Chamberlain Square in 1885 above the Council House. An extension began around 1911 and was completed by 1919. Also home to the Gas Hall. The Birmingham History Galleries opened in 2012.

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery from Chamberlain Square (July 2020). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

 

History of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

The museum first opened in 1885, above the Council House at the Chamberlain Square site. The building was designed by Yeoville Thomason.

Birmingham Museum & Art GalleryArt Gallery, Birmingham from Mason College, 1890. Public domain. Historic England collection

 

The Council House Extension towards Great Charles Street (and between Congreve Street and Margaret Street) was opened in 1911. This included more galleries. The gallery was bombed in 1940 during WW2, and several of them had to be rebuilt after the war. Immediately above the Chamberlain Square entrance at the Edmund Street corner, is the clocktower known as Big Brum. The Gas Hall gallery is located in the Council House Extension. There is also the Water Hall, but this has been closed for years. The Birmingham History Galleries was installed in some of the galleries in the extension during 2011 to 2012. The Birmingham Museums Trust took over the running of the museum (and the other community museums) from Birmingham City Council in 2012.

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BM & AG from Chamberlain Square (November 2009). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Chamberlain Square entrance

You enter through the double doors from Chamberlain Square, and head right then up the staircase, which goes around to the left up to the main foyer. There is also a lift that can be used from the Edmund Street entrance.

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BM & AG main entrance up the stairs (April 2012). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

The Round Room

Below the large dome is the Round Room. It has walls painted in dark red, with paintings all around. In the middle is Sir Jabob Epstein's Lucifer. One entranceway leads to the gift shop, Industrial Gallery and the Edwardian Tearoom. You can also head over the BM & AG link bridge to the Art Gallery Extension and Feeney Galleries. This opened in 1912. Or take the exit to Chamberlain Square via the foyer and down the stairs.

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The Round Room at BM & AG (March 2012). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Industrial Gallery

One of the oldest galleries at the museum dating back to 1885. There is a pair of staircases leading up to Ruskin Pottery. Up here you can find pottery and ceramics.  There is two entrance ways that takes you to the gallery that goes around the Edwardian Tearoom, with medal objects made out of iron, brass and steel.

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The Industrial Gallery at BM & AG (April 2012). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Edwardian Tearoom

Somewhere to stop for a bite of lunch and a drink, on your visit to the Museum & Art Gallery is the Edwardian Tearoom. It can also be seen from the cantilevered Iron Gallery above. The tearoom was refurbished in 2014.

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Edwardian Tearoom at BM & AG (April 2012). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Ancient Galleries

Galleries with objects from Ancient Greece, Egypt and Rome in the Council House extension. Mounted to the long sides of the balconies is the Frieze of the Mausoleum, c 350 BC.  On the short sides is the Frieze of the Nereid Monument, c 380 BC. They were both plaster casts of the originals at the British Museum. They can be seen in the African Gallery.

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African Gallery at BM & AG (March 2012). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Staffordshire Hoard Gallery

The Staffordshire Hoard Gallery was moved into the gallery below the Ancient Egypt Gallery in 2014. Having previously been in a different gallery in the museum from when it was discovered in 2009 to 2014. Anglo Saxon objects  (from the Kingdom of Mercia) that were found in a field in Staffordshire in 2009, were bought by Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Stoke-on-Trent Potteries Museum.

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Staffordshire Hoard at BM & AG (October 2014). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

School Room

Located to the left of the Great Charles Street Queensway entrance is a School Room, where visiting school children can be educated about objects at the museum.

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School Room at BM & AG (April 2012). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Gas Hall

Touring exhibitions, either free or paid for with tickets are usually in the Gas Hall. Entrance from Edmund Street. From an exhibition on Ancient Egypt (from the British Museum) in 2012, to Dippy on Tour (from the Natural History Museum) in 2018, to Home of Metal presents Black Sabbath 50 Years in 2019. This and more has been at the Gas Hall. It was formerly the municipal Gas Department of the Council House.

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Dippy on Tour in the Gas Hall at BM & AG (June 2018). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Birmingham History Galleries

An entire floor in the Art Gallery Extension was converted during 2011 to 2012, opening in November 2012. The galleries are all about Birmingham's it's People and it's History. Discover the people and events that have shaped our city. From Peter de Birmingham in the 12th Century, to Thomas Attwood in the 1830s to Joseph Chamberlain in the late 19th Century. To more recent history of individuals in the 20th and 21st Centuries. Including the fall of MG Rover in 2005, to the visit of the Pope in 2010.

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Birmingham Politcal Union rally held by Thomas Attwood in the 1830s, painting at the Birmingham History Galleries at BM & AG (November 2012). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Temporary Exhibitions

Various temporary exhibitions have been and gone to BM & AG over the years, such as Turning to See in 2016, to Leonardo 500 in 2019 (from the Royal Collection). More locally the trails of the Big Hoot (in 2015) and Big Sleuth (in 2017) has been around the museum.

 

New Art West Midlands

This is a regularly returning exhibition to BM & AG called New Art West Midlands. Modern art made by local or International artists over the last few years or decades. It started in 2013, and was going on annually until at least 2018.

Man and his Sheep (1989) by Ana Maria Pacheco. Made of wood, paint, teeth. The artist is from Brazil. Seven figures huddle around an almost naked man holding a sheep's head on a pole.

New Art West Midlands BM & AG

New Art West Midlands at BM & AG (April 2013). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Birmingham and the British Empire

This exhibition was on during January 2018. Birmingham's historical involement in the British Empire by it's extent up to 1922. But some objects dates to later than that. The museum has a habit of moving objects from elsewhere in the museum into temporary exhibitions like this one, or take objects out of storage from the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre. Or get temporary loans from elsewhere.

Birmingham and the British Empire at BM & AG

Birmingham and the British Empire at BM & AG (January 2018) Photography by Elliott Brown

 

The Big Hoot Birmingham 2015

From the summer of 2015, for 10 weeks, there was a trail of painted owls around Birmingham. At BM & AG there was one big owl, plus a room full of The Big Hoot's Little Hoot. After it ended, they were auctioned off for the Birmingham Children's Hospital Charity.

At the far end of the BM & AG link bridge to the extension galleries was G'owl'd, by the artist Temper. The sponsor was Edward’s Trust. It was supported by Wild in Art.

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G'owl'd (by artist Temper) at BM & AG (July 2015). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

The Big Sleuth Birmingham 2017

From the summer of 2017, for 10 weeks, there was a trail of painted bears around Birmingham. At BM & AG there was at least two big bears (but one was small). The rest to be found were from the The Big Sleuth presents the Little Bear's Detective Club. After it ended, they were auctioned off for the Birmingham Children's Hospital Charity.

At the far end of the BM & AG link bridge to the extension galleries was Xt was by the artist Reuben Colley. The sponsor was Harrow Green.

Big Sleuth BM & AG

Xt (by artist Reuben Colley) at BM & AG (July 2017). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Contact details

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

Chamberlain Square

Birmingham

B3 3DH

0121 348 8032

Twitter: @BM_AG

Project dates

31 Aug 2019 - On-going

Passions

History & heritage, Civic pride, Squares and public spaces
Classic Architecture

Contact

Your Place Your Space

Jonathan Bostock

0121 410 5520
jonathan.bostock@ yourplaceyourspace.com