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Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (Birmingham)

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4 Reviews

Address: Chamberlain Square / Birmingham / B3 3DH / England / Tel: +44 0 121 303 2834

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    4 Reviews
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      29.09.2013 19:19
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      Highly recommended

      I've been to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery many times and get it never gets old. My boyfriend and I had a wander around whilst in Birmingham last weekend. If you fancy a day out, then Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is the place to go. The opening hours for the museum are 10am - 5pm, except for Friday, where it opens at 10.30.

      The museum is absolutely huge and the picture of the front of it at the top of the page absolutely does not do it justice for how vast it really is. The main entrance is in Chamberlain Square (by the old library, town hall and the Conservatoire). The main entrance has a lot of steps, but there is a more accessible entrance to the left with lifts to the museum. When you enter into the main entrance, you enter into the Round Room. The Round Room is an art gallery with Victorian works of art. There are helpful information boards all around the room explaining about the art works in front of you. The next room along is the Pre-Raphaelite Gallery which is the world's largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite work. One of my favourite parts of the gallery is the Industrial Gallery which is just through from the the art gallery. The Industrial Gallery houses a large collection of ceramics from all over the world, showing the development of work, the art work and even how politics has developed ceramics making, art and stained glass all over the world. Also, this section of the museum houses two stone sphinxes which were originally at Soho House, another museum within the Birmingham Museums group. On the same floor, is a gorgeous Edwardian tea room which is a lovely setting to sit down and have a rest from your trip round the museum.

      The museum houses the Staffordshire Hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasure. It is currently in a temporary exhibition and there is to be another gallery opening in September 2014 which will be another visit I feel! The Staffordshire Hoard was discovered in a field in Staffordshire in 2009 and was inspected by the Coroner and labelled officially as "treasure". The collection comprises of 300 items of varying sizes. There is an information board explaining about the discovery of the collection and the trading routes that were used in the 7th Century.

      There is a section on the Egyptians, which me and my sister really love walking around. Gruesome, maybe, but interesting! There is a real mummy and equally interesting artefacts and information about the ancient Egyptians. This is a great place to keep a child interested in a museum. My niece really enjoys this section of the museum, even though she's not old enough to understand about the era but there are so many things to look at. There are also children's sections which has small activities and games to keep them fascinated.

      Going upstairs in the museum, my absolute favourite section is the section on Birmingham and it's people. I have a huge interest in the development of democracy, the development of society and politics etc. This section covers all of this in Birmingham from it's beginnings as a village in the Medieval period right up until the current day. The great thing about this section being so specific to Birmingham is that it includes the development of manufacturing, including factories like the Austin. The display on war time evacuation from Birmingham had me shed a tear or two, particularly the letter from the host of an evacuee to the children's parents in Birmingham. It explained that they were being looked after etc which on the face of it is great, but imagine the heartbreak of your children being sent away for some unspecified length of time... well it had me in bits. If you have limited time at the museum, I would highly recommend starting at the top level because this exhibition is so geared specifically towards Birmingham which sets the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery apart from similar museums.

      The best thing about the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is most definitely that it has free admission. You can wander around whenever you have a spare hour etc as I frequently do while I'm in Birmingham. My boyfriend hadn't been there since he was about 7 and he thought that the museum was a complete gem that's totally underestimated in Birmingham. The museum building itself is very accessible, there are lifts between the floors and the corridors and exhibition spaces are wide and allow easy access. My sister and I had no space problems getting a push chair around. The one downside though is that we couldn't find a leaflet with a map of the layout in anywhere! It would have been very useful to know which sections were which and it would allow for ease of planning as well! The only map of the layout that we could find was in the foyer. It would have been useful to have either printed leaflets or maybe laminated versions to hand back in on the way out (in the interests of being environmentally friendly and all that!).

      There is an exhibition space downstairs in the museum which changes topic every few months. Currently, there is a Julia Donaldson exhibition which I am led to believe by my sister is well worth the visit! My niece and I are a big fan of "A squash and a squeeze", so we may have a visit before the exhibition goes! You do however have to pay extra for other exhibitions going on at the museum, so you may wish to bear that in mind! Other than this exhibition, if you're taking children to the museum, you won't have any problems keeping them interested as there are so many 'hands-on' experiences, games etc.

      Overall, the museum is a really interesting day out and I would highly recommend it!

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        04.04.2010 19:43
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        Fabulous museum and gallery, worth a visit

        My sister suggested visiting Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery as we were staying with her for the Easter Weekend.

        The museum is free entry (with charges for special exhibitions). It is housed in a lovely old building with some really lovely features including an Edwardian tearoom.

        We visited the art section, there are some excellent pre-Raphelite paintings (Edward Burne-Jones in particular) and we also loved seeing the ceramics section. There were some amazing works of art and there was quite a bit of interactivity as well. They have a great section called 'In Touch' and you can touch works, there are listening posts, and all sorts of other things to play with.

        We were really lucky to see the Staffordshire Hoard which has been saved for the West Midlands (hurrah) - it was brilliant to see the really fine metal work that was buried with people hundreds of years ago. So interesting and brilliant to see it for free!

        We had lunch in the tearoom and they had a good choice of hot and cold options.

        We visited other sections such as the Egyptian mummies and there was a lot that we didn't get round to - there is lots to see and do in this museum and is great for kids as there are plenty of interactive displays.

        Thoroughly recommend this museum and art gallery for everyone!

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          22.02.2010 17:36
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          Must visit if you are in Birmingham

          I am lucky enough to live a short train ride away from Birmingham, and it is one of the places we always go in the school holidays. Why? ITS FREE!!! Not many places are free these days and this is a really fun place to visit.
          Situated in central Birmingham, not far from the main shopping area, Birmingham museum is easy to find, because it is so big. There are a variety of displays, something to interest everyone, with a vast art gallery, displays of wooden items, and and ancient cultures section.This is the section I always head to straight away.
          The Egyptian room has an impressive selection of ancient artifacts and two human mummies on display. My parents used to take me when I was small and they freaked me out then-they still do! There is also a mummified crocodile and mummified animals. The other must see display is the room that features items from the holy land. There is a display of a tomb found in Jericho, which is fullof bones and skulls, another one to freak the kids with.
          Many cultures are featured in the museum, with colourful costumes, masks and jewelry on display.
          The staff are always very helpful and friendly, and the atmosphere is welcoming to families who are encouraged to touch and interact with the exhibits.
          What I really like about going in the school holidays is that there are usually free activities on for children, such as making things or doing art based on the exhibits.
          There is a part of the museum called the gas hall which sometimes houses special exhibits that charge a small entrance fee. We went to one of these a couple of years ago, which was an animated monsters exhibition. This really brings art to life.
          I can't reccommend this place highly enough. we return again and again and are never disappointed.

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          18.02.2010 16:25
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          Definitely worth checking out if you're in the area, especially the Egyptian room!

          I visited Birmingham recently to go to the Imax and watch Avatar 3D (which was fab, and I'll review that soon too!). As it took us just over an hour to drive into Birmingham, we decided to go on the morning and spend some time looking around before getting something to eat and heading over to the film. After a quick Google search, I found the Museum & Art gallery was free and is one of those 'things to do' whilst in Brum, so we decided to do that. It was a bit different to the norm, as I only ever really go shopping in Brimingham, so I'm glad I went.

          The museum & art gallery is part of 6 other mseums, including Aston Hall, Soho House, Weoley Castle, Sarehole Mill, Blakesley Hall & the Jewellery quarter (so there's plenty you can visit if you're in the West country area).

          It can be found in Chamberlain Square, Birmingham, B3 3DH. This place has now been open for 120 years and is easily located by the clock tower on Chamberlain square. It's one of those 'to do' places whilst you're in Birmingham, and it's a very popular place so there's not much problem finding it.

          There's no cost to visit and it's free entrance, though there will sometimes be additional charges for some events/exhibitions (but I didn't notice anything that required payment)

          The opening Times are as follows:

          Monday - Thursday 10am - 5pm
          Friday 10.30am - 5pm
          Sat 10.00am - 5pm
          Sunday 12.30pm - 5pm

          It's considered the 'cultural heart of Birmingham', so it's good to know there's more to Birmingham than you may think if you go by the assumptions and pre-conveived notions of the city.

          I've seen this museum in the news lately, actually, I noticed it was featured on the TV program 'The Hustle'. Scenes were actually filmed in Birmingham, notably of this museum, but were passed off as being filmed in London. Cheeky, eh?

          There's a wide range to see if you visit here so I would suggest leaving a bit of time to have a good mooch around and really appreciate all it has to offer. I think we probably spent 45 minutes walking around, but we also skipped out a section or two of fine art paintings (we were a little pushed for time & none of us were really too interested in that when we could go see some Egyptian mummies!).

          When you go in there's a small foyer where you will find a desk to ask a staff member any questions you may have or pick up a few leaflets. You can then go straight into the museum, no questions asked, and look around at your own pace.

          The museum is divided into sections, so you know what sort of art you're looking at or which period of history you're walking through. There are pre-Raphaelite paintings, European/World history, 1950s scene set-ups, pottery, aerchaeological findings, mock-ups of historical scenes etc.

          The best bit, for me anyway, was the Egyption area. I loved the displays of real mummies, where inside at least one casket was a real mummified person. A little creepy, yes, but very cool nonetheless. There's plenty of artefacts to look at, as well as written notes to read if you want to brush up on your history and learn some interesting factoids.

          For those bringing along children, most sections have small activities to keep them interested and having fun. For example, in the Egyption section there are masks for children to try on along with a mirror, and some puzzles for them to solve. Again, it's quite hands on and interactive.

          You can also attend a 'spotlight session' as per the website, where you bring an object of your own to the museum and have an expert tell you about it. I find this quite an intriguing idea, though I don't have anything I could take (though I do have some vitamins I found whilst clearing out the cupboards dating back many, many years. I wonder if I could take those?). This is on the 1st Wednesday f each month 1-3pm.

          I enjoyed looking around the museum, though we did find ourselves getting a little lost every now and again. Whilst the sections were marked, there was a lack of direction as to which bit you should start with. Obviously, you can suit yourself as to where you look, but there is an order to going around if you want to cover everything, and we noticed we didn't always know which way to go.

          We went on a Saturday and there were a fair few people in there, despite a bit of snow, very cold winds and some rain. I would imagine this building can get quite busy, but I found the general feel to the place quite leasurly; there's no push to look at certain things or to hurry around in a certain amount of time.

          To remember your day you can take pictures, there are leaflets available from the foyer, and there's also a giftshop (obviously somewhat overpriced as most gift shops seem to be). If you want to break up your visit a bit there's also a café, which I believe serves a selection of snacks and drinks (though we didn't go there).

          Overall, it was an enjoyable experience and I can't complain about anything as it was free. There was plenty to look at, with different eras and parts of history to explore, and it had a relaxed and interactive feel to it - not the typical 'hands off' & walk silently whilst you have someone tell you where to go kind of gallery.

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