No city is complete without a museum or an art gallery. While Birmingham has plenty to be proud of, it has felt a little incomplete without the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery – where are all the tourists meant to go? Thankfully, after almost four years, it’s finally opening its doors to the public once again!
Due to the pandemic, the museum closed in October 2020 but has remained closed ever since to rewire the building. Yes, there were a few pop-up exhibitions in 2022, but come 2024, the Birmingham Museum & Gallery will be back to its former glory. It’s not all happening at once, however, instead, it will open in phases throughout the year.
This starts with The Gas Hall on February 10, 2024, which will host the return of Birmingham’s world-famous collection of Pre-Raphaelite art. Victorian Radicals has spent the past five years touring America but will kick off the art gallery’s return with this special homecoming exhibition – which is made up of three generations of British artists working between 1840 and 1910.
There are more than 160 works on display, by artists such as Ford Madox Brown, Edward Burne-Jones, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, William Morris, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Elizabeth Siddall, and Birmingham-born Edward Burne-Jones. Expect paintings, drawings, jewellery, textiles and metalwork, all exploring the relationship between art and nature in an age of industry.
The collection also celebrates Birmingham’s historic importance as a centre for the Arts and Crafts. In Birmingham, paintings made by artists like Kate Bunce, Joseph Southall and Arthur Gaskin combined the poetry and intensity of the Pre-Raphaelites’ work with a distinctive Brummie identity. By the early 20th century, Birmingham’s School of Art was one of the most important centres in Britain for progressive art and design.
“This exhibition highlights one of the great strengths of Birmingham’s collection and also highlights its importance as a centre for the Arts and Crafts movement at the end of the 19th century,” said Victoria Osborne, Curator of Fine Art at Birmingham Museums Trust and one of the exhibition’s co-curators. “The ‘Victorian Radicals’ believed that art and creativity could change the world and be a real force for good in society. The questions they explored in their lives and work are as relevant today as they were 150 years ago.”
Looking ahead, several gallery spaces within the main Museum will re-open ahead of the summer of 2024. While the re-introduction of learning and participation programmes, serving communities and schools across the West Midlands, will be back for the new academic year in September 2024. To learn more about Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery head here.