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30 Apr 2018

Birmingham Manufactures Project: Photographing our Machines

The Birmingham Manufactures Project is nearing its end. We have looked at jewellery, toys, custard, buttons, buckles, bricks, brass, coins, electroplating, pens, pots, papier mâché, tools, beer mats, printing blocks and quite a lot of other things. We have taken the time to look carefully at all kinds of objects, and we have learned a little bit about the manufacturing history of Birmingham from each of them. These things were all made in Birmingham, and they all live on shelves and in boxes in our Museum Collections Centre. Most of the things we have talked about so far have been objects that you can hold in your hand or move about on a little trolley.

However, anyone who has visited our Collection Centre will recall that some of the most exciting things in our collection are too big to hold in your hand, or even lift. Some of our objects are so big that they don’t fit in most of our buildings. We have a steam hammer that requires a crane to move and a machine that polishes giant lighthouse lenses. We have lots of slightly smaller machines from factories and workshops around the city. We even have the machines that made some of the thousands of tiny objects in our collections! Read More...

27 Apr 2018

Collecting Birmingham: Mrs Eunice McGhie-Belgrave MBE

I am Paramjit Sehmi and I have been volunteering for Collecting Birmingham archiving and documenting some amazing acquisitions. Indeed, The Collecting Birmingham project has acquired some precious gems which I'm lucky to have had the pleasure of exploring.

One such example is the truly fascinating collection of objects donated by Mrs Eunice McGhie-Belgrave MBE. The overall aim of the Collecting Birmingham project is to highlight the significance of people, and the stories of their lives in Birmingham and Eunice’s story certainly fits this brief. Read More...

23 Apr 2018

Birmingham Manufactures: Alfred Bird & Sons - Poles Apart

In 2013 Birmingham Museums acquired a collection of products made by Alfred Birds & Sons at their Digbeth factory. They were catalogued and photographed as part of the Birmingham Manufactures project. 

Bird’s is an iconic brand which originated in Birmingham. With its familiar blue and yellow packaging, it appeals to a comforting vision of homelife in the twentieth century and a nostalgic yearning for British-made goods and products. But these objects also tell other stories.  Read More...

19 Apr 2018

Enter the Inspire 2018 Art Competition

We have a fantastic competition for young artists! There are hundreds of pounds of art vouchers to give away as prizes and selected art works will be displayed at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The competition is open to children and young people aged 5-19 years old living in the West Midlands.

There are three age categories this year:5-9 years10-14 years15-19 years One winner and runner up in each category will be selected from each for prizes. Read More...

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...