WHAT’S NEW

January 2024

Friends Office Move

Due to the continued flooding in Soho House’s cellar, the Friends’ office has had to move! We are delighted to now be based in the North Lodge at Aston Hall.

Please send any written correspondence to us at our new address: The Friends of Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, North Lodge, Aston Hall, Trinity Road, Birmingham, B6 6JD or call us on: 0121 348 8330. Please note that the office is staffed on a Tuesday but please leave a voicemail and we will respond as soon as possible.

November 2023

CHANGE OF VENUE to Aston Hall for the Friends of Birmingham Museums Christmas Event on Tuesday 5 December 2023

Due to unforeseen circumstances, we have had to relocate the Friends’ talk on Cameo Glass and the ‘Meet and Greet the Committee’ Event from Soho House to Aston Hall’s Stable Yard Cafe. The address is Aston Hall, Trinity Road, Aston, Birmingham, B6 6JD.

Despite the change in venue, the timings will be the same. Dr Kate Round, Outreach Presenter and Tour Guide for Dudley Museum Service, will be giving a talk about ‘Cameo Glass’ so please do arrive anytime from 10.30am for an 11am start. Coffee and tea will be available on arrival. While the event is free, donations will be much appreciated.

This talk will be followed by an opportunity to ‘Meet and Greet’ the Friends Committee from 12noon. Refreshments – a glass of wine or a soft drink and nibbles – will be provided.

It is important that we know numbers for catering purposes so please book your place by emailing: [email protected]. It will be lovely to see you all.

PS. It’s all right to turn up at 12noon just for the ‘Meet and Greet’!

We do hope that, despite the change in venue, those of you who are booked to attend will still be able to make it. Please note that everyone who has booked will be receiving an email or a telephone call separately to this email update, to ensure that you are aware of the change.

November 2023

The perfect Christmas Gift: Membership of the Friends of Birmingham Museums

A Christmas Gift Membership could make an ideal present so why not give a Friends Gift Membership to a relative or friend this year -which includes 3 extra months FREE!

Benefits of Membership include free admission to Birmingham Museums Trust’s Historic Properties; discounts in the cafes and shops at BMAG, Thinktank and the Historic Properties; 50% entrance discount to Thinktank; and a 10% discount in the Birmingham and Midland Institute’s Coffee Lounge and at the cafe and the shop at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and the Gladstone Pottery Museum.

Recipients will also have the opportunity to take part in Friends’ social events and will receive a copy of our quarterly magazine ‘Artefacts’.

Please click here to download an application form. To take advantage of Christmas Gift Membership, please return the form by email or post it to the Friends’ Office by Tuesday 5th December 2023.

October 2023

BAFM Winter 2023 Newsletter – article about the 2023 Newsletter of the Year Award

Peter Miles, our Chair, accepting the Award at the BAFM Conference

We featured in the Winter 2023 edition of the BAFM Newsletter twice – and the second time was in relation to our winning the Newsletter of the Year Award. Click here to download the PDF of the article; or click here to download the BAFM Winter 2023 Newsletter.

David Adgar (BAFM’s Vice Chair and Interim Editor) was very complimentary about Artefacts and its reach across the West Midlands:

‘We now come to our outright winner. After much deliberation, the Friends of Birmingham Museums have been selected as Winner of the 2023 BAFM Newsletter of the Year Award. Against a difficult time of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery closure for refurbishment, The Friends have recognised the very real importance of the newsletter to continue to engage with their members. As Peter Miles wrote in the latest issue of ‘Artefacts’ with BMAG being closed at the moment ‘now is the time when Birmingham Museums really needs its Friends more than ever’.

What was so impressive about Artefacts was the way it was designed to be a gateway publication for the arts and heritage within the wider area of the West Midlands. Members reading the magazine are being kept aware of exhibitions in museums in Coventry, Worcester, and Kidderminster.  There is information about theatre, dance, and events as well. But the heart of the magazine is still focused on the collections of Birmingham Museums and the work of the Friends. I congratulate The Friends of Birmingham Museums and as their prize, two places at the Doncaster Conference have been allocated to them.’

October 2023

Four page feature in the Winter edition of the BAFM Newsletter

We are delighted to have a four page feature about our acquisitions database in the Winter 2023 edition of the British Association of Friends of Museums (BAFM) Newsletter. Click here to download the PDF of the article.
Click here to download the whole Newsletter.

September 2023

Double page feature in the Summer edition of ‘Colmore Life’, Colmore BID’s magazine

We are delighted to have a double page feature in the Summer edition of ‘Colmore Life’, Colmore BID’s magazine. The article promotes our support of Birmingham’s collections and our online Acquisitions database, which records the 2,700+ objects which we have helped support since 1931!

You can read the whole magazine here.

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August 2023

Artefacts awarded the BAFM 2023 Newsletter of the Year Award!

The Friends of Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery have won the competition for the British Association of Friends of Museums (BAFM)’s Newsletter of the Year 2023!

The prize was awarded for the Summer 2023 edition of ‘Artefacts’ which, rather appropriately, had a picture of Birmingham on the front cover – the print of ‘The High Street Market Birmingham’ after David Cox.

Peter Miles, our Chair, and Melissa Hughes, Editor and Friends Administrator, have been offered complimentary tickets to attend the BAFM Conference on 30th September, at which we will be presented with a Certificate of Merit.

‘Artefacts’ has come a long way following an uncertain end to 2022 when PW Media, the publishing company with whom the Friends had produced ‘Artefacts’ for many years, entered into voluntary liquidation. However, thanks to Paul and Jess from PB&J Publishing, the magazine continued to be printed to its original schedule and has flourished. We now regularly spot it on display at museums, galleries, libraries and other venues across the Midlands.

Thanks go to the small and dedicated team who produce ‘Artefacts’: Paul Blyth, Studio Director at PB&J Publishing, for all his hard work, professionalism, perseverance and patience over many years; Jess Ronan, for her commitment to selling the adverts and getting ‘Artefacts’ on as many front of house displays as possible; Jim Wells, who writes a thoroughly researched ‘Changing Birmingham’ feature article and a Quiz for each edition; the Friends Events Sub-Committee, who schedule and organise the excellent Friends’ Events; our various contributors who write and submit interesting content with striking visuals; and finally (and vitally!) Lynda Perrin, who for many years has used her superb proof-reading skills to make ‘Artefacts’ as error-free as possible!

We are particularly pleased that to be winning this prestigious BAFM Award with PB&J’s second edition of ‘Artefacts’.

August 2023

The Autumn 2023 edition of Artefacts

The Autumn edition of Artefacts was published at the end of July 2023, and features our usual mix of feature articles, events listings, the Friends quiz and much more.

We would like to thank Derek Street, the Friends’ volunteer who has patiently put together sixteen fantastic crosswords for ‘Artefacts’! Derek’s last Crossword appeared in our award-winning Summer 2023 edition. We are delighted that, following Derek’s retirement, we have a new Crossword Compiler – Colin Jones – whose first Crossword features in this Autumn 2023 edition of ‘Artefacts’ (see page 25).

We hope that you enjoy reading the magazine.

July 2023

The Friends’ 2023 AGM and the proposed new logo

The Friends’ 91st AGM will be taking place on Tuesday 12th September 2023 at 11am in the Lyttelton Theatre at the Birmingham and Midland Institute. The Friends’ Committee will be proposing a new Friends Logo!
Please click here to download the proposed new logo guide, which includes all the new logo options.

January 2023

Artefacts magazine

I received the sad news in the week before Christmas (December 2022) that PW Media, the publishing company with whom the Friends have produced ‘Artefacts’ for many years, were entering into voluntary liquidation – particularly sad news for their employees and suppliers.

Luckily Paul, our long-standing, committed and very patient designer, asked whether he might contact the printers for quotes to enable his own company, PB&J Publishing, to keep ‘Artefacts’ up and running. This was a particularly tough task given the time of year, with everything closing down over Christmas.

In order for the Spring 2023 edition of ‘Artefacts’ to be viable, we used a ‘self-cover’, with the cover being the same stock and feel as the internal pages of the magazine itself. This makes the magazine easier to take places and recycle and will also give us more space for content – interesting images and fascinating features – in future editions as ‘Artefacts’ will be 40 pages.

And so the Spring 2023 edition of ‘Artefacts’ is the first edition published by PB&J Publishing, and I am delighted to welcome them to the ‘Artefacts’ team! We are incredibly grateful to Paul and Jess (our new Account Manager) for enabling us to continue to produce ‘Artefacts’ on schedule with no additional cost to the Friends. We very much look forward to continuing to work with PB&J Publishing in the future – and we hope you will enjoy reading ‘Artefacts’!

Nearly 4000 copies of ‘Artefacts’ being unpacked with the assistance of Paul and Jess’ little helper – the youngest member of the ‘Artefacts’ team!

August 2, 2022

The Friends’ 2022 AGM and the proposed new Constitution

The Friends’ 90th AGM will be taking place on Tuesday 13th September 2022 at 11am in the Lyttelton Theatre at the Birmingham and Midland Institute. As part of this AGM, the Friends’ Committee will be proposing a revised 2022 Constitution, since the current Constitution has become outdated.

June 21, 2022

The Friends’ Acquisition Database

Since its formation in 1931, the Friends has assisted in purchasing objects for Birmingham Museums’ collections. We are proud to have helped to acquire objects in every year over that 90+ year period! Following the hard work, detective skills and patience of our Honorary Archivists – Margaret Boniface and Margaret Lister – and their team of helpers, we have compiled a comprehensive list of the items which the Friends have purchased for Birmingham Museums since 1931.  We are delighted to announce that we have just published this database on our website! Please click here. We will be developing the database and its functionality and adding more images, so please do check back as we update it.

June 1, 2022
Introducing the new Friends’ Office

With the closing of the offices in Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery for essential electrical upgrade work, we have been on the lookout for a new Friends office. We are delighted to have been able to take up residence in Soho House Museum, one of Birmingham Museums Trust’s Historic Properties and the Georgian home of the Birmingham industrialist, Matthew Boulton. We are still using our previous address c/o the Birmingham & Midland Institute, but you can also now send post to us at the following address: Friends of Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Soho House Museum, Soho Avenue, Birmingham, B18 5LB.

May 2022
AmazonSmile

The Friends are now signed up to AmazonSmile, a website operated by Amazon which allows customers to search the same selection of products as on amazon.co.uk. However, when customers shop through the URL smile.amazon.co.uk, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible purchases to the Friends, at no cost to you! Please click here, or on the banner below to find out more:

May 2022
Artefacts – Summer 2022, Issue 69

The Summer 2022 edition of ‘Artefacts’ went to print last week. We are delighted to be re-launching the Friends Events Programme, after a gap in activities due to Covid. Click here or on the image below to download a copy and click here to visit the Friends Events page to see what we have lined up over the next few months! Instructions on how to apply for tickets can be found in the latest edition of ‘Artefacts’.

February 2022
Artefacts – Spring 2022, Issue 68

We are delighted that the latest edition of ‘Artefacts’ has just been published, featuring a photo of BMAG, which is due to partially reopen in April 2022, on the front cover. Click here or on the image below to download a copy.

January 2022
Happy New Year!

The Friends of Birmingham Museums would like to wish our Members and Facebook Followers a very Happy New Year! We are planning some events this year – both in person and online. And so we move forward into 2022 with hopefulness for the year ahead!

October 2021
Artefacts

We are delighted that, after a break in publication due to Covid-19, the Winter 2021 ‘Artefacts’ was published at the end of October 2021.

Click here or on the image below to download Artefacts Winter 2021.

Artefacts: Winter 2021

July 2021
Recruiting a Friends Membership Secretary 

Having dedicated many years to the Friends, Lynda Perrin has decided to ‘hang up’ her Membership Lists. It has been a privilege to work alongside her and we will miss her greatly. If you or anyone you know would like to find out more about or apply for this paid part-time post please contact Peter Miles: email [email protected] or ring 07443 825459.

June 22, 2021
Friends support the acquisition of Hew Locke’s sculpture Souvenir 9 (Queen Victoria) 

The Friends are delighted to have played in a vital role in the acquisition of Hew Locke’s sculpture Souvenir 9 (Queen Victoria) for Birmingham’s collection.  Souvenir 9 will be on loan to the Tate from 1st December 2021 to 3rd April 2022 for their major exhibition Art from Britain and the Caribbean. This will enable the sculpture to be shown whilst BMAG is closed for electrical work. It will return to Birmingham next spring to enable it to be on display when BMAG reopens for the Commonwealth Games.

On 25th June 2021 there was an in-conversation event with Hew Locke and ceramicist Matt Smith, chaired by Dr Sadiah Qureshi. A recording is available through the Race, Empire & the Pre-Raphaelites research group of the British Art Network blog’s: https://raceempireprb.wordpress.com/events/ or click here.

Following the Friends commitment, Birmingham Museums Trust was able to secure the remaining funds required to acquire the sculpture from Art Fund, the V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Friends.

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.

November 26, 2020
Birmingham Tier 3 restrictions from December 2

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery will remain closed after the end of the England lockdown until at least December 14. Future reopening date is uncertain. 

BMT receives major grant from the Culture Recovery Fund

Birmingham Museums Trust has been awarded £1.87 million as part of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund to help the independent charity face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure the organisation has a sustainable future beyond the crisis.

The financial support from DCMS and ACE is vital to enable the charity to continue to recover. Having reopened Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (BMAG) earlier this month, with these crucial funds the Trust can now focus on its plans for adapting and reopening Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum, early next year. Along with developing income generating opportunities, such as investing in the museum’s shop, to help Birmingham Museums survive beyond this crisis and make the organisation more resilient to future challenges.

 ‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year’
This prestigious show opened in the Gas Hall on October 17, 2020, and will run until 7 February 2021.
Friends are entitled to free entry but must book as any other person wishing to see it. Use the booking phone line 0121 348 8263
or email to [email protected]

BMAG is open again!
Since Wednesday October 7, the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is open to the public – Wednesday to Sunday each week. Entry will be through the Gas Street entrance only and you have to pre-book tickets. Use the museum website, link here.
Level 2 galleries and the Edwardian Tearoom are open.

March 19, 2020 – updated October 8, 2020
CORONAVIRUS – Covid-19

Friends of Birmingham Museums had to respond to the emergency that disrupted normal life for the whole country. From Wednesday March 18, 2020, Birmingham Museums Trust closed all its buildings to the public. Most staff, including those in the Friends Office were obliged to work from home.

Now that the BMAG building has reopened, office arrangements are being restored. Since there will not be staff in the office every day, the best way to contact the Friends remains by email ([email protected] or [email protected]).

Education in Birmingham
An up-to-date review of the development of education ideas and institutions in Birmingham.

Jane’s Walk for Birmingham Museums

How one Friend showed her commitment to the Birmingham Museums during the coronavirus lock-down and its financial aftermath. 

(David Foster, Chair Friends of Birmingham Museums)