Now, my bedroom window currently features scenic vistas of some bins, a rusty bike, and some scaffolding, so I don’t know about you, but I’m desperate for a different kind of view. Thankfully, help is at hand with many museums, galleries, gardens and more in Birmingham offering virtual tours during the global pandemic. With tours currently postponed due to social distancing measures and all tourist venues closed, here is a brilliant way to see the sights of Birmingham. So, pop the kettle on, sit down with a brew and discover the wonders this city has to offer from home!
Enjoy a filmed walkthrough of exhibitions by Judy Watson and John Newling at the Ikon Gallery and watch interviews with the artists to discover more about their work. Plus, Ikon currently has a winter film programme, organised to coincide with the gallery’s exhibition Faster Than Ever. All films are available to watch via Ikon’s website or you can head to over to their YouTube channel, where you’ll find more video content.
Birmingham City canal walk
Feel the bustle and excitement of Britain’s canal capital as you take a virtual tour around the arteries of the industrial revolution. Start in the heart of things at Brindley Place and look out for The National Sea Life Centre and the ICC before heading through Gas Street Basin and out into the myriad of possibilities that is the Birmingham Canal Navigations. See how many pubs, cafes and other eateries you can spot as you wander virtually along the towpath. Find the virtual walking tour here.
Birmingham’s central squares
Missing the city centre? Well, don’t worry as you can enjoy a virtual tour of Birmingham’s central squares, starting at Victoria Square and ending at Centenary Square. The tours have been produced by Positively Birmingham walking tours who have had to cancel all their real tours of the city due to the Coronavirus lock-down. This tour explores the central squares in the city and looks at the history of Birmingham as well as the present day city. You can head on a virtual walking tour here.
The Coffin Works
Discover the shelves and workbenches at Newman Brothers, full of original stock and tools of the Birmingham-based trade on their virtual tours. With the original machinery working again, you can truly experience how this old Jewellery Quarter firm once operated on a day-to-day basis, producing some of the world’s finest coffin furniture, including the fittings for the funerals of Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother. But don’t worry there won’t be any dead bodies in these coffins. Phew! Check out the Coffins Works virtual tour here.
Museum of the Jewellery Quarter
Take a look inside the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, which was built around the perfectly preserved Smith & Pepper jewellery factory. When the proprietors retired in 1981 they simply ceased trading and locked the door, unaware they would be leaving a time capsule for future generations. You can enjoy tours of the offices, the engravers bench, the jewellers’ 12 seater bench, the workshop, as well as discover a vast array of original tools, stamps and machinery that would’ve been used inside the factory. Learn about Birmingham’s history of jewellery here.
Aston Hall is a magnificent seventeenth century red-brick mansion and is one of the last great houses built in the Jacobean style. You can explore it’s interiors and see inside the home that received royalty, was besieged during the English Civil War and inspired an author. You’ll find numerous four-poster beds, banquet tables, window seats and ornate fireplaces in this mansion just outside Birmingham. Go on a virtual tour of Aston Hall here.
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
You can now look inside Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery without having to be there. Filmed in summer 2019, you can go on four tours of the museum and discover all the art and history galleries. Starting in the iconic Round Room, where visitors arrive having walked up from the main entrance, the tour continues through the art galleries, as well as the Staffordshire Hoard Gallery, which tells the story of the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found. Take a walk through Birmingham’s history in the ‘Birmingham: its people, its history’ gallery, which covers the majority of the museum’s third floor. You can also see art and objects spanning seven centuries of European and World history and culture, including the Greeks, Romans and Ancient Egypt galleries. Take the virtual tours of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery here. There are also a number of online lectures taking place over the lockdown, including one on how J.R.R Tolkien was influenced by the landscape of his childhood. Find the lectures here.
Blakesley Hall is a timber-framed house built in 1590 by Richard Smalbroke, a member of one of Birmingham’s leading merchant families. The house is furnished using an inventory taken in the 17th century and reflects the lifestyle of a wealthy family of the late Tudor and Stuart period of English history. You can view the Great Hall, the parlours, buttery, kitchen and still room on the ground floor, as well as the attic, bed chambers, servant’s room and more on the upper floors in this virtual tour.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens
With the current restrictions requiring us to stay local, not all of us Brummies are close enough to the botanical gardens to stretch our legs there during our daily exercise. Luckily, Birmingham Botanical Gardens is offering us the chance to take a tour around there and get our nature fix virtually. You can discover three of their suites including the Terrace Suite, Garden Suite and Loudon Suite. You can find the virtual tours of Birmingham Botanical Gardens here.
Port Loop virtual viewings
Looking for a new pad? Or just plain nosey? Places for People and Urban Splash have made home-from-home virtual viewings a reality, rolling out a virtual desktop experience for customers interested in homes at Port Loop in Birmingham. Future homeowners are taken on a virtual tour of the Town House show home by one of the sales advisors; giving customers the chance to ‘walk around’ the professionally styled house from the comfort of their own home. The virtual tour takes place via Skype or Zoom and allows customers to ask questions as they move through the property, making the experience as live and interactive as possible.