About Us

The Friends is an independent registered charity, which was set up in 1931 to support the work of Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery. Click here to read our latest annual report – Annual Report 2022.

Over the years, our efforts have extended to include nine museum sites that now make up Birmingham Museums Trust (BMT) – see more below. A ‘Brief History of the Friends’ was published in the Winter 2022 edition of ‘Artefacts’. Click here to download the article.

The Round Room at BMAG

In 1931, we were set up by the then Keeper of the Gallery, SC Kaines-Smith, who wrote to the Treasurer of the City Council, Mr JR Johnson, on 31 January 1931: ‘I am hoping that we may get together about £1,000 or £1,500 by means of a very large number of small subscriptions, and I am proposing that these subscriptions should be made payable to you for the Friends of the Gallery Fund Account.’  So within 6 months ‘the Friends’ was born.
Now we are an organisation which has over 600 members. You can read more about our Committee Members here.

In the past we have organised a variety of events annually including: an overseas trip; a weekend away in the UK; day trips out; talks and lunch clubs in one of the Museums; evening events; our AGM; our Annual Lunch and our Annual Lecture. We have now relaunched our events programme following the Covid-19 pandemic, so click here to find out more.

Group of Friends outside The Queen’s House, Greenwich

We aim to give £15,000 per year to BMT, and this money is used for a variety different purposes: capital funding; purchasing acquisitions; supporting conservation; and  supporting contemporary artists through commissions.

Over the years, the Friends have given over 2,000 objects to Birmingham Museums and we have an extensive Acquisitions Archive which lists all of these items.
Here are two striking acquisitions from our long history…

‘Mumtaz Mahal’ by an unknown Indian artist

‘Mumtaz Mahal’ by an unknown Indian artist:
An enamelled miniature purchased by the Friends in 1931. It was one of the artefacts which the Friends agreed to buy at the first Friends’ Committee meeting. Whilst you might not recognise the name ‘Mumtaz Mahal’, you will know of the UNESCO World Heritage Site the Taj Mahal in Agra , which was built in her honour – as a monument of undying love – by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan after she died during childbirth.

‘Transporter’ by Keiko Mukaide and Ronnie Watt


‘Transporter’ by Keiko Mukaide and Ronnie Watt:
‘Transporter’ was commissioned by the Friends in 2011 to celebrate our 80th birthday and the opening of the Birmingham History Galleries. We wished to commemorate the occasion with something of lasting impact and, after consulting with BMT’s curators, the Friends commissioned world-renowned artist Keiko Mukaide and engineer Ronnie Watt to make this dramatic work. It hangs below the stairs leading up to the History Galleries, attracting people up. The Friends were actively involved with the artists as they designed and constructed the installation, which is called ‘Transporter’.

Keiko Mukaide and Ronnie Watt demonstrating the maquette for 'Transporter' at the design stage
Keiko Mukaide and Ronnie Watt demonstrating the maquette for ‘Transporter’ at the design stage

There are huge pressures on local authority funding and on national Arts Council funding. And, as the grants which BMT receives become increasingly threatened, the costs of maintaining and interpreting the collections are increasing. BMT needs to find ways of raising money – and that’s how we can help!

Birmingham Museums Trust (BMT): Birmingham Museums has nine venues which provide a fascinating glimpse into Birmingham’s rich and vibrant past and showcase world class museum collections. It inspires and nurtures creativity and learning, offering opportunities to inform visitors about its collections. Explore the nine sites by using the links below: