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Home Travel 8 of the best museums in Birmingham

8 of the best museums in Birmingham

It’s solely becoming {that a} metropolis so related to ingenuity and invention ought to have a number of excellent museums to discover. As soon as referred to as the “Metropolis of 1000 Trades,” Birmingham was a pillar of Britain’s industrial revolution and genius Scottish inventor James Watt selected to make the metropolis his dwelling.

From 19th-century Impressionist masterpieces to interactive mini-cities, Birmingham’s museums maintain a wealth of enchantment for all ages and pursuits and are straightforward to achieve too. Listed here are eight of the metropolis’s best museums.

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People in a large cafe with Edwardian decor around the walls and ceiling, and a mezzanine balcony
Birmingham Museum and Artwork Gallery dates from 1885 © Alamy

Birmingham Museum and Artwork Gallery is the best for exhibitions

Birmingham’s 19th-century Museum and Artwork Gallery has been a grand centerpiece of the metropolis heart since 1885 and is especially identified for its intensive assortment of works by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, most notably Edward Burne-Jones. In recent times, nonetheless, it’s been the high quality and nature of BMAG’s exhibitions that has actually set it aside. 

From internet hosting Residence of Metallic’s enormously common exhibition on native heroes Black Sabbath to the poignant We Constructed This Metropolis which checked out the hardships endured by post-war Irish immigrants to Birmingham, BMAG all the time units a excessive bar for its revolving solid of colourful and thought-provoking shows. 

A large brick mill building with a tall chimney on the edge of a pond
Sarehole Mill was a supply of inspiration for a younger JRR Tolkien © Courtesy Photograph

Sarehole Mill is full of literary inspiration

At first look, the previous redbrick watermill in leafy Corridor Inexperienced in all probability wouldn’t be one thing you’d instantly affiliate with a multi-billion greenback franchise. However in the early 20th century, the 250-year-old Sarehole Mill and the close by woodlands of Moseley Lavatory fascinated and impressed a younger JRR Tolkien, who lived simply throughout the highway.

Nowadays guests can discover the mill and the surrounding space and see the place the first sparkles of Center Earth, The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit started to percolate in Tolkien’s thoughts. Refill with freshly baked pizzas in Sarehole stone courtyard at weekends (one thing positively not accessible in Tolkien’s day). 

A jewelry-maker works with a flame on a metal piece of jewlry in a workshop
Birmingham’s Jewelry Quarter accounts for 40% of the UK’s jewellery manufacturing © Courtesy Photograph

The Museum of the Jewelry Quarter is sort of a time capsule

Whereas its low-lit bars and nice eating eating places have turned the Jewelry Quarter into a preferred night vacation spot, this good-looking neighborhood grew in the 19th century on the manufacturing of its namesake jewellery. The truth is, the space nonetheless accounts for 40% of the UK’s jewellery manufacturing. 

Get a window into what circumstances have been like again then at the Museum of the Jewelry Quarter, the place the previous Smith and Pepper workshop – together with its dusty benches, workstations and instruments – have been left precisely as they have been when the firm ceased buying and selling in 1981. The knowledgeable reside demonstrations are particularly good at bringing that distant time interval to life.

An outside play area for children, with troughs for water play and tunnels to climb through
Get hands-on in the play areas at the Thinktank Science Museum © Alamy

Thinktank is Birmingham’s best museum for households

Science museums are all the time nice as a result of of their generational enchantment and Thinktank at the huge Millenium Level is an ideal instance of this. An award-winning museum, its Planetarium, interactive mini-city (MiniBrum) and Science Backyard are perfect for each entertaining and educating youngsters. 

Only a quick stroll from the metropolis heart, its large house implies that Thinktank additionally has room for some distinctive historic and native displays. These embrace the solely surviving Birmingham tram, James Watt’s Smethwick Engine (the world’s oldest working steam engine, constructed in 1791), and a legendary WWII Spitfire fighter plane that’s suspended from the ceiling. 

Barber Institute of Wonderful Artwork has many lesser-known artworks

Exploring the elegant grounds of the College of Birmingham is a pleasing expertise in itself, however tucked away behind the College of Arithmetic is – cliché alert – the archetypal hidden gem. Far out of sight from the metropolis heart throngs, the Barber Institute of Wonderful Artwork’s tranquil art-deco corridors comprise a splendid assortment of little-known works from the likes of Monet, Turner and Van Gogh. 

Of explicit notice is its elegant assortment of French 19th-century work, with a collection of masterpieces by the Impressionists, together with Edouard Manet’s Portrait of Carolus-Duran and Degas’ Jockeys Earlier than the Race. Reaching the museum alongside the meandering sun-dappled stretch of canal from the Mailbox can also be one of Birmingham’s prettiest walks.

A series of antique fountain pen nibs in a display case
Pens are a giant half of Birmingham’s native historical past © Courtesy Photograph

The Pen Museum is the metropolis’s most uncommon museum

Lengthy earlier than keyboards and touchscreens, the written phrase reigned supreme. So whereas at this time it could really feel like a dying artwork, there are some who want to rejoice the apply in all its glory and there’s nowhere in Britain extra becoming than Birmingham.

In the 19th century, the metropolis manufactured 75% of all pens worldwide and in the course of helped to democratize writing by making them low cost and reasonably priced. Head to the Pen Museum in the Jewelry Quarter to attempt your hand at calligraphy, write with a quill and ink and be taught extra about this little-known half of native historical past.

An art exhibition with strange branch-like structures holding up globes
The Finish of Enjoyable, an exhibition by artist Kristof Kintera at the IKON gallery in Birmingham, UK © Alamy

IKON Gallery is the best place for modern artwork

Set in a shocking Neo-Gothic Victorian boarding college, IKON Gallery was based in 1965 as an artist-led various house and now presents a daily program of exhibitions, occasions, studying workshops, and seminars, representing some of the world’s best visible artists. 

Combining established with rising artists, its extensive and vivid corridors enable the artists house to precise themselves in any style they select, usually with a give attention to tradition and training. Ikon additionally homes Birmingham’s solely unbiased arts bookshop on its downstairs ground, an absorbing little spot that usually takes up as a lot time as the museum itself. 

A grand Jacobean-style redbrick mansion with a large central clocktower
Aston Corridor is a grand mansion and Birmingham landmark © Alamy

Aston Corridor is right for studying all about Civil Conflict historical past

Courting again over 400 years, Aston Corridor is one of Birmingham’s grandest and most lovely landmarks although it nonetheless bears the scars of a turbulent begin to its life. Lower than 10 years after it was accomplished, it was broken after an assault by Parliamentary troops throughout the English Civil Conflict in 1643.

Ebook a tour of this ornate Jacobean mansion and see the well-known gap brought on by a cannonball smashing by way of a window and right into a staircase. And don’t neglect to discover the magnificent Lengthy Gallery and the King Charles Room (the place King Charles I is alleged to have spent the night time previous to the Battle of Edgehill).

Maintain a watch out for the subsequent Unbiased Birmingham Competition too, a summer time celebration of the metropolis’s excellent meals scene that usually takes place at Aston Corridor. 


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