December 13, 2023
Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts and Crafts Movement

We are delighted that ‘Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts and Crafts Movement’ will be opening in the Gas Hall at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery on 10 February 2024. The exhibition will be open from Wednesday until Sunday from 10am – 5pm. Members of the Friends will have FREE entry to the exhibition on presentation of their valid Membership card, but you must pre-book a timed ticket before arriving.

Please click here to read more and to pre-book your tickets.

About the exhibition: Three generations of British artists, designers and makers revolutionised the visual arts in the second half of the nineteenth century. The Pre-Raphaelites, William Morris and his circle and the men and women of the Arts and Crafts movement transformed art and design.

Selected from the city of Birmingham’s outstanding collection, ‘Victorian Radicals’ presents vibrant paintings and exquisite drawings alongside jewellery, glass, textiles and metalwork to explore their radical vision for art and society.

Fresh from an award-winning tour of the US, ‘Victorian Radicals’ is the first comprehensive showing of the city’s Pre-Raphaelite and Arts and Crafts collections in Birmingham for over five years. Discover the story of the Pre-Raphaelites themselves and their influence on artists and makers well into the twentieth century – especially in Birmingham itself. Paintings made by artists including Kate Bunce, Joseph Southall and Arthur Gaskin combined the poetry and intensity of the Pre-Raphaelites’ work with a distinctive identity all their own.

This exhibition is organised by Birmingham Museums Trust and the American Federation of Arts. Supported by the Friends of Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery.

Adult: £11
Concession: £6
Child (up to 15): Free
Members of the Friends of Birmingham Museums: Free

PLEASE NOTE: The main museum and art gallery building will continue to be closed following maintenance work. ONLY the Gas Hall will open on 10 February 2024 for the ‘Victorian Radicals’ exhibition.

March 2023
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s closure

After its partial reopening for the Commonwealth Games in 2022, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery closed for essential maintenance works on Sunday 13 November 2022 at 5pm. The closure has been – and will continue to be – very disappointing for many people, but the ongoing building work is vital and will ensure that the Museum can be continue to be enjoyed in full in the future.

In order to prepare for these infrastructure works, the museum objects had to be packed away and put safely into storage. This was a huge undertaking by the collections team to ensure 35,000 objects – 26,000 works on paper, 1,000 paintings, and 8,000 objects – were checked, packed and carefully moved.

The Staffordshire Hoard can be seen on display at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. Many other objects and artworks are on loan to other venues across the region and country. Click here to see the full list of loans.

Some of the stored objects can be seen at the Museum Collection Centre, the main store for Birmingham Museums, which holds around a million items. The Museum Collection Centre is open to the public once every two weeks for pre-booked tours.


October 26, 2022
Science Heritage Career Ladder (SHCL) at Thinktank

By Sarah Wickson
STEM Teens Project Officer
This summer Thinktank has restarted the Science Heritage Career Ladder (SHCL). The SHCL recruits young people aged 16 and 17 and gives them a paid traineeship in science communication.

Thinktank have run this scheme since 2008 and, after having paused due to the pandemic for two years, we brought this highly successful scheme back in summer 2022!

This year, the young people spent 13 days during the summer holidays working with our Visitor Service team. They ensured visitors had a great day at Thinktank and helped with our summer programming based around the Commonwealth Games and Space Ranger day.

Whilst most of their time was spent with Thinktank Visitor Service team, they also spent time with different departments within Birmingham Museums Trust (BMT). They went to the Museum Collections Centre and had a tour with Felicity McWilliams, BMT’s Curator for Science and Industry. They helped out the Learning team and shadowed the Tech team. They also learnt about our photography department whilst having their photos taken by David Rowan. In addition, they received training in science communication, how to take oral histories and storytelling.

The feedback from the staff and parents of the young people reveals how much they enjoyed their time and how much their confidence has developed. When asked what their favourite part was the young people said:
“I think I just like being in the museum and walking around seeing everything, talking with people.”
“I say definitely interacting with the public while I was doing the busking – that was really fun. And going behind the scenes with the technicians – that was really fun.”
“Gaining confidence and being able to learn every time I walk past something that I never seen before”.

And when asked what you would like to do next:
“I think if I could get a job here while in college that would be really good and maybe go into museums in the future.”
“I’m going into year 13 so just finish that then university maybe, then come back here maybe.”
“Hopefully do my A-levels and go into medicine.”
In the future we hope to expand the program so that we can run it through the year (not just in the summer) and also include the Historic Properties.


May 25, 2022
‘Blood & Fire: Our Journey Through Vanley Burke’s History’

A brand-new exhibition opens at Soho House Museum today, curated by renowned photographer Vanley Burke. Evocative images taken by Vanley Burke will join archival material from his personal collection, in a new exhibition at Soho House in Handsworth, taking visitors on a journey through the artist’s history and the Black British experience. As one of the UK’s leading Black artists of the commonwealth generation, this exhibition focuses on Vanley Burke’s journey to illustrate a wider, connected history of Black British experiences using the communities of Birmingham as a lens.
‘Blood & Fire: Our Journey Through Vanley Burke’s History’ is free to visit and is open every Wednesday to Sunday, 11am-4pm until 30 October.

Click here for more information.

May 3, 2022
BMAG’s ‘pop-up’ Reopening

BMAG reopened on 28 April 2022, with an exciting radical transformation of its iconic Round Room, and a selection of new exhibitions including ‘Found Cities, Lost Objects: Women in the City’, in which Turner Prize-winning and internationally renowned artist Lubaina Himid CBE invites us to consider the experiences of women in the city, as seen through the lens of art; ‘Unprecedented Times’, which invites visitors to take a moment to pause and reflect on all that has passed in Birmingham over the last two years of living with Covid-19; Wonderland, which explores how cinema has shaped the streets, social lives and dreams of Brummies over the past 125 years; and ‘In The Que‘, a sensory celebration of one of the UK’s greatest music venues. 

March 9, 2022
BMAG’s (Partial) Reopening

After being closed, firstly by the pandemic and then by essential electrical works, BMAG will partially reopen on Thursday 28 April 2022, welcoming visitors back to the Round Room and Industrial Gallery seven days a week, from 10am – 5pm.

To mark the reopening, BMAG is being handed over to some of Birmingham’s most exciting creatives. Birmingham Music Archive, Fierce, Flatpack Projects and Kalaboration Arts will be animating the Round Room and Industrial Gallery, while the rest of BMAG remains closed for essential work. Responding to the theme ‘This Is Birmingham’, visitors can expect a collision of new exhibitions and live events as well as space to join in and contribute themselves. The Edwardian Tearooms will also be back open as a welcome pitstop for a bite to eat and a cup of tea.

March 9, 2022
‘Found Cities, Lost Objects: Women in the City’ curated Lubaina Himid CBE

Naiza Khan, The City Soaks Up Like A Sponge © The Artist. Digital image by Birmingham Museums Trust

Launching at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (BMAG) in May 2022, the Arts Council Collection presents ‘Found Cities, Lost Objects: Women in the City’, a national touring exhibition curated by Turner Prize-winning artist and cultural activist Lubaina Himid CBE, which explores modern city life from a female perspective.

Exploring shared female experiences of urban life, this exhibition considers the privileges enjoyed and boundaries faced by women in the modern city. On display from 14 May – 4 September 2022, in the Gas Hall at BMAG, this large exhibition of over 60 works presents a wide array of modern and contemporary art, including painting, sculpture, photography and film from both the Arts Council Collection and Birmingham’s collection.

Deborah Smith, Director, Arts Council Collection, says: “It’s always exciting to see what fresh perspective artists will bring and what stories they will tell when we give artists an open brief to curate the Arts Council Collection. The Collection has enjoyed a long relationship with Lubaina, from acquiring her work in 1988 to her show Meticulous Observations at the Walker Gallery, Liverpool, where she mined the depths of the Collection. Found Cities, Lost Objects’ impressive pedigree of female artists offers new perspectives on urban life and helps us understand how art is a powerful tool in shaping our cities and the world around us.”

Lubaina Himid CBE, artist, says: “Found Cities, Lost Objects challenges the status quo by encouraging viewers to discover the city through the eyes of female artists. Women generally inhabit cities via retail and healthcare venues, but how can we expand our presence beyond this for everyone’s benefit, now that these spaces are under pressure to perform differently? The exhibition explores the contradictory experiences of women across the city, free to roam the streets while always considering the boundaries within which that freedom is contained.”

Katie Morton, Exhibitions Team Leader at Birmingham Museums Trust, said: “We can’t wait to open the doors to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery again and we couldn’t think of a better way to reopen the Gas Hall than by bringing this major Arts Council Collection exhibition to Birmingham audiences. Lubaina’s examination of the female experience in the modern city is timely and by curating such a line-up of renowned artists, from both the Arts Council Collection and Birmingham works, there are a wide range of viewpoints for visitors to enjoy, explore, and reflect on how they relate to their own experiences of the city.”

The exhibition will open at BMAG following the partial reopening of the site to the public on 28 April 2022. In order to ensure this exhibition is accessible to everyone, instead of paying a set ticket price visitors are asked to ‘pay what you can’. Any contribution helps to cover the significant costs of staging such an exhibition, as well as ensuring that price is not a barrier to anyone who wants to visit.

Found Cities, Lost Objects features works by Sophie Calle, Helen Cammock, Milena Dragicevic, Anthea Hamilton, Young In Hong, Markéta Luskačová, Margaret Murray, Cornelia Parker, susan pui san lok, Hannah Starkey and Magda Stawarska-Beavan, among others.

Established in 1946 as a national collection for the UK, today the Arts Council Collection cares for over 8,000 works by close to 2,200 artists. The Collection is managed by the Southbank Centre on behalf of Arts Council England, and is committed to supporting artists from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines, most often at an early stage of their career, in order to reflect the rich, diverse culture of the UK. It is a widely circulated national collection that can be seen in museums, galleries, schools, universities, hospitals and charitable associations across the UK and abroad.

Found Cities, Lost Objects: Women and the City
14 May – 4 September 2022
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

2021 Reports

November 24, 2021
Birmingham Museums Conservation Appeal for The Star of Bethlehem and Holy Grail Tapestries

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG) is home to the world’s largest collection of art and design by the Pre-Raphaelites and their associates. Birmingham Museums needs your support to protect two of the city’s best-loved treasures for future generations to enjoy: Edward Burne-Jones’ ‘The Star of Bethlehem’ and ‘The Holy Grail Tapestries’ designed by Burne-Jones with John Henry Dearle and William Morris.

‘The Star of Bethlehem’ is the world’s largest watercolour and has been on display at BMAG for 130 years. Essential work needs to take place to replace its fragile glazing as well as carefully assessing and conserving the painting.

The Star of Bethlehem, 1887-1891, 1891P75; Sir Edward Burne-Jones; Commissioned by the Corporation of Birmingham, 1887, and purchased through the Art Gallery Purchase Fund, 1891; Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust, licensed under CC0.
The Star of Bethlehem, 1887-1891 by Sir Edward Burne-Jones; 1891P75; Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust

The delicate Holy Grail tapestries are at serious risk of weakening and even tearing. They need conservation and a really good clean. Birmingham Museums have been unable to display them since 2015 and they are currently in storage.

These monumental artworks have an important place in the history of British art as well as being stars of Birmingham’s collection. This vital fundraising campaign will ensure that they can be enjoyed by you – and thousands of other visitors – for many years to come.

To make this essential conservation project possible Birmingham Museums need to raise £25,000 through public donations and are asking for your help.

Please support the conservation of these fabulous artworks and give what you can. Every gift – however large or small – will make a difference and will be hugely appreciated. Click here to visit the JustGiving page.

Quest for the Holy Grail Tapestries - Panel 2 - The Arming and Departure of the Knights, 1895-96, 1907M129; Designers: Sir Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris and John Henry Dearle; Manufacturer: Morris & Co; Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust, licensed under CC0
Quest for the Holy Grail Tapestries – Panel 2 – The Arming and Departure of the Knights, 1895-96, 1907M129; Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust

January 14, 2021
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery will remain closed throughout 2021

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG) will remain closed throughout 2021 while essential electrical upgrade work of Birmingham’s Council House complex takes place but plans for reopening in time for the 2022 Commonwealth Games are underway. While the building is closed Birmingham Museums Trust will continue to share items and stories from Birmingham’s collections with audiences in a variety of exciting and engaging ways both online and in the community.

The reopening will be launched with a transformation of BMAG’s iconic Round Room. A radical new display of this stunning gallery will reflect the people of 21st Century Birmingham. In a sweeping change from the current paintings of landscapes, historic subjects and dignitaries from the past, the new We Are Birmingham display will present a vibrant celebration of the city that Birmingham has become. It will draw on new artworks as well as historic items from Birmingham’s Collections. 2022 will also herald a programme of new exhibitions as well as celebrating the city’s treasures such as the Staffordshire Hoard, world-famous Pre-Raphaelites and more recent items from Collecting Birmingham such as the Koh-i-Noor curry house booth.

Click here to read more.

2020 reports

REPORTS from 2020
Coronavirus lock down year

New CEO appointments for Birmingham Museums Trust
From November, BMT will have joint CEOs, Zak Mensah and Sara Wajid. They are replacing Dr. Ellen McAdam, who stepped down in June. The appointment is rare because of the appointment of people of colour to highest levels of leadership in UK museums. It is the only example of job-sharing at this level among UK museums.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery reopened, 
from Wednesday October 7th. It is open to booked visits only on Wednesdays through Sundays. Visits will be limited, at present to the Floor 2 galleries. The Edwardian Tearoom will be open, too.
The planned major exhibition – “Wildlife Photographer of the Year” – will be run from Saturday October 17 in the Gas Hall.

Update on Historic Sites – Sarehole Mill.
Here is the inside story of the amazing success story of Sarehole Mill during the pandemic. Click here to read Alex Nicholson-Evans’ account of what can be achieved with imagination and determination.

On-Line Lecture Series
During the summer months a series of online lectures will be showing. The first group are about local discoveries and the things you might accidentally uncover during your walks. Click here to learn more and how to join in.

Historic sites – opening events. 
Birmingham Museums invite you to an exciting range of Summer treats. Most of the historic sites will be involved. Read the details by Clicking Here.

July 25, 2020
Birmingham Museums Trust announces the start of consultation on redundancies amongst staff. Read the formal announcement here.
This is the latest of a series of reductions in staff numbers over the past decade and is, in many ways, the most cruel. Before this natural disaster, the organisation had been stabilising and seeing a growing future.

March 26, 2020

Whether Birmingham Museums’ buildings are open or closed, you can always explore some of the remarkable objects in the collection. Just click here to follow some of the virtual tours available.

2018 and earlier

REPORTS FROM 2018 and earlier

The Friends’ campaigning, combined with the very effective impact of messages from wider afield, persuaded the City Council to withdraw ALL its proposed cuts to its support for Birmingham Museums for the year 2017-18. This is great news – though it promises nothing about council support for future years.

 For the record, this is the message the Friends sent to the City Council:-

“We urge you to reconsider your proposal to reduce greatly the service charge you pay to Birmingham Museums Trust.

The Friends of Birmingham Museums is an independent charity with approximately 1,000 members, most of whom live in and around Birmingham and pay their Council tax to Birmingham City Council.
Over the 85 years since its formation, the Friends have demonstrated the active support of Birmingham citizens for Birmingham Museums. Members’ funds have financed acquisitions and bequests of over 2000 objects of all kinds adding to the city’s collections. It is our proud boast that we have enabled additions to the collections in every year since our formation, a claim no other independent supporter can make. Our members have also contributed their time and enthusiasm as volunteers in a wide range of roles.

Three recent examples of the range of support:-
In 2011 we commissioned an original installation, now suspended in the oculus beneath the Birmingham History galleries, in part to commemorate our 80th anniversary.
In 2015 the Friends were delighted to be one of four funders of the successful Mini Museum, specially designed to provide an attractive place for children under-5 to experience the city’s collections. Many of our members are grandparents and appreciate having such an engaging space to both entertain and educate our grandchildren.
In 2016 the Friends committed to donating a three-year annual grant of £15,000 as vital match funding to support the high profile Arts Council Collection National Partners programme of eight exhibitions to be held across Birmingham’s museums. The first exhibition Night in the Museum, an exhibition curated by leading British artist Ryan Gander at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery’s Gas Hall, was recently launched by Councillor Ian Ward and is proving very popular with a wide range of visitors including schools.

With this proud record of support, we do not wish to see our many decades of investment undermined at such a critical point in Birmingham Museums Trust’s development as a relatively new charity.
We recognise that this is a difficult time for Birmingham City Council, when your expenditure is constrained by the decisions of central government. But your proposed treatment of Birmingham Museums Trust is illogical and uncaring.

It is illogical since care of our city’s internationally important museum collections is a City responsibility. Since it was formed in 2012, Birmingham Museums Trust has cared for them effectively and responsibly. Visitor numbers have risen every year under the Trust’s stewardship reaching over 1 million to all museum sites. It is vital for Birmingham’s museums that you continue to pay the proper cost of meeting your obligation. Without a proper level of support the Trust will not be able to survive and thrive.
It is uncaring since you threaten to undermine the Trust’s conscientious adaption to the proposed £250,000 reduction to its budget in 2017/18 which you had requested. By suddenly tripling this reduction, by adding another £500,000, you are demonstrating a lack of care for the organisation which you had contracted to manage these world class collections.

Birmingham Museums Trust is an integral part of the city’s cultural offer. As well as visitors to the city and residents, there are nearly 1,400 school visits (which equated to 110,000 school children in 2016). Maintaining Birmingham Museums will enhance both the life of the local population and support tourism.

We urge you to restore the service charge you commit to pay to Birmingham Museums Trust in 2017/18 to the previously agreed level.

The Friends of Birmingham Museums”