12 Apr 2018

Beyond Gallery Walls

Art galleries and exhibitions are truly magical spaces. It’s a curious mix to see people at their most unguarded, as they access artwork, yet simultaneously so aware of themselves and others in the space. Memorable artwork can be an intensely personal experience, at odds with the physical reality of sharing this next to a complete stranger, who is also connecting to the artwork.

Working in fine art engagement, I often have the chance to observe others observing art. We run the gamut of emotions in gallery spaces, but how aware are we of others in the room? Accessing an exhibition like “Coming Out – Sexuality, Gender and Identity" in the gallery means by default interacting with others. We politely or non-verbally navigate around others, wait for our chance to get up close and see detail, share social time with friends, family and strangers all at the same time. Our every active choice in the space is a subconscious message to those around us – how long do we linger on a particular artwork and why? Does our body language reveal our unconscious reaction to the work? Read More...

29 Mar 2018

Disposable Cameras – Rejection of Perfection?

I am what they call a millennial. I was born in 1995 and struggle to recall a time where technology wasn’t a part of my life. I grew up with a Virgin Lobster flip phone which had an aerial and survived the washing machine several times. We had a family computer that sat in the hallway and had to be turned off when my Nan phoned the landline. Me and my brother spent Saturday’s on the PS1, trying to manoeuvre a blobby-looking Harry Potter through Quidditch hoops.

Yes, we grew up with technology. But we were not ruled by it. Crucially, social media didn’t rule our lives and photo editing didn’t become routine until we were in our late teens. Of course, when it became easy-peasy to use a filter here and zap a pimple there, we were quick to jump on it. Now, several years down the line, there is an underground rebellion of 90’s babies who are saying no to edited photographs, because, well, it’s just not cool anymore. Read More...

14 Mar 2018

A Heritage Learning Curve: My PR & Marketing Internship with Birmingham Museums Trust

Hi everyone! Time for some introductions: my name’s Madeleine Bourne and I’m the PR and Marketing intern at Birmingham Museums Trust. Since January, I’ve been popping in two days a week, alongside my degree, to get stuck in at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

My time at the Trust has been a hugely positive learning curve! I’ve been given a good grounding in the running of a press office, and this internship has opened my eyes to the kind of roles I’d love to try for upon graduating, after leaving the comforting bubble of university, and entering the big, bad world. Read More...

9 Mar 2018

Story LAB 2 - Body Image and Identity

Nestled between the Edward Burne-Jones and 18th century galleries is the Story LAB, a gallery created for testing storylines and methodologies for co curation and collaboration here at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The current exhibition in the space, The Past is Now, has been open since November 2017 and encourages visitor feedback as part of its design. From July 2018, we will launch a new story in the gallery around the theme of Body Image. It will have been designed, curated and interpreted with the help of expert partners, schools and our volunteer colLABorators.


28 Feb 2018

Collecting Birmingham’s Gaming Heritage

In November and December 2017 two Collecting Birmingham community consultation sessions on the topic of video gaming, took place. Stories and recollections of gaming, game development and popular memorabilia connected to gaming practices in Birmingham throughout the 70's, 80's, 90's and 2000's were collected by the project's staff.

Collecting Birmingham is researching gaming as part of the themes of childhood and leisure in Birmingham. The project hopes to collect objects that resonate with the local communities; an object selected by the public will form part of an upcoming exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Read More...

26 Feb 2018

Inspired by Aston Hall's Famous Long Gallery...

To celebrate Aston Hall’s 400th Birthday, Birmingham Museums Trust has commissioned a unique new product. The traditional umbrella has been inspired by Aston Hall’s famous Long Gallery. Details of the intricate flowing strap-work, on the ceiling of the Long Gallery, feature on the inside of the umbrella, so rainy days will be beautiful from now on…

Aston Hall is one of Birmingham’s hidden gems, which can be found in Aston Park. This magnificent Grade I Listed Jacobean mansion stands substantially unchanged. The Hall was one of the last great Jacobean houses to be built in England, and its history and architecture make it a nationally important heritage attraction. Built for Sir Thomas Holte, as a home, to display his hard earned wealth and newly purchased title of baronet, an aggressive assertion of social status and grandiose prosperity are visible throughout. Read More...

22 Feb 2018

Volunteering as an Engagement Assistant

My name is Rosie and I am part of the volunteer team here at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. I first started volunteering in the Story Lab Exhibition, ‘The Past is Now: Birmingham and the British Empire’, back in October 2017.

My role as a volunteer in this exhibition was to encourage visitors to engage with the exhibitions exploration of the British Empire through conversation and written feedback. This was an amazing opportunity to talk to visitors about their perspective of the colonial narrative typically used to present its history, and whether they believed the exhibition challenged that. I had no idea that I would be engaging with visitors with stories of their own, who were really able to connect with the objects and art on display, and learn so much from our discussions. Read More...

21 Feb 2018

Volunteering in Conservation Club

My name is Tabassum and I am currently in my final year of studying Ancient History and Archaeology at University. I first volunteered with Birmingham Museums as a Summer Activities Assistant in 2017, but because I enjoyed working with the museum so much I later applied to be part of the Conservation Club.

I chose to volunteer with Birmingham Museums as I wanted to gain some volunteering experience before leaving university. Whilst I was volunteering as a Summer Activities Assistant - a one week volunteering role over the summer holidays - I was given the opportunity to set up and move around the items on the object handling display table, meant for visitors to engage with. This was significant to me, as I have always wanted to work in a museum as a curator, but there are not always a lot of opportunities available for students to work in this environment. The role also involved approaching visitors to come and see the display table. This helped to boost my confidence and my people skills. I began the week with very little confidence and I left with a lot more confidence! Read More...

20 Feb 2018

Volunteering as a Curator’s Assistant (Natural Science)

Hi, my name is Kelly and I have been volunteering as a Curator’s Assistant (Natural Science) at the Museum Collection Centre with the Natural Science Curator, Lukas, since October 2017. Alongside volunteering, I am studying for my Masters in Museum Studies with the University of Leicester, working at Sarehole Mill as a Museum Enabler, as well as creating taxidermy birds in my spare time.

I have an innate love for nature and natural history, so this role is the perfect fit! We are currently working on the “Dippy on Tour” project, which will see Dippy, the diplodocus skeleton cast from the London Natural History Museum,  touring around the UK. Birmingham is the second stop on the tour, and the exhibition will open in the Gas Hall in May 2018 and demonstrate how modern birds are the living relatives of dinosaurs, using a range of objects from the bird collection. Read More...

19 Feb 2018

Student Volunteering Week 2018

It is that time of year again… National Student Volunteering Week! This is the week when we really celebrate all of our brilliant volunteer team members who are also busy studying whilst they support us.

To celebrate Student Volunteer Week we are announcing Birmingham Museums Student Volunteer of the Year for 2018. This year’s winner has volunteered with us for over a year and has really supported our Portable Antiquities Scheme by volunteering as an Archaeological Finds Recording Assistant. So congratulations to Aimee Hinds and a huge thank you from Birmingham Museums for all your time, effort and dedication to volunteering with us. We especially love this photograph of Aimee getting into character on a visit to another museum, definitely sums up her love of history! Read More...