Our venues


Photo bmag

World class museum in the heart of Birmingham city centre.

Chamberlain Square

Birmingham, B3 3DH

0121 348 8038

Photo thinktank

Award-winning science museum for fun-packed family days out.

Millennium Point, Curzon Street

Birmingham, B4 7XG

0121 348 8000

Photo aston

Explore the splendour of one of the last great houses built in the Jacobean style.

Trinity Road, Aston

Birmingham, B6 6JD

0121 348 8100

Photo blakesley

Discover a fine Tudor house and beautiful gardens just a few miles from the heart of the city.

Blakesley Road

Birmingham, B25 8RN

0121 348 8120

Photo jewellery

A perfectly preserved workshop in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter.

75-80 Vyse Street

Birmingham, B18 6HA

0121 348 8140

Photo sarehole

A 250 year old working watermill famous for its association with author J.R.R Tolkien.

Cole Bank Road

Birmingham, B13 0BD

0121 348 8160

Photo soho

Georgian home of the Birmingham industrialist, Matthew Boulton.

Soho Avenue (off Soho Road)

Birmingham, B18 5LB

0121 348 8150

Photo weoley

The ruins of an exquisite fortified manor house built 750 years ago.

Alwold Road

Birmingham, B29

0121 348 8160

12 Jun 2017

Birmingham Manufactures: What about Smethwick?

We all know that names are important, but identifying what we mean by ‘Birmingham’ for this project has proved a little tricky! At the start of the project we were unsure whether or not to include world-famous manufacturers that although not technically in Birmingham, have important connections to the city, and are well represented in the collection. Perhaps most perplexing of all was the problem of Smethwick. Although it is not part of Birmingham, many of the most important manufacturers in this region were either based in Smethwick or had premises there, and Smethwick-made goods are well represented in our collection. This blog post will identify a few examples that we’ve already come across as part of the project, and explore a little bit why the geographical division of manufactured goods is so difficult! 

Perhaps the most familiar to visitors of Thinktank will be the Smethwick Engine. The Smethwick Engine is the oldest working steam engine in the world, and is one of the highlights of our collection. The engine was made for pumping water up the locks on the Birmingham Canal, and was made at Soho Foundry, in Smethwick. Named after the site at which it originally stood, the Smethwick Engine has clear connections to manufacturing in nearby Birmingham. The Engine was manufactured for the famous Birmingham-ites Boulton & Watt, who founded the Soho Manufactory, a little over a mile away in Handsworth. Although Handsworth is now firmly within Birmingham’s borders, at the time of production, it actually lay in Staffordshire!  Read More...

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9 Jun 2017

Get involved and shape the future of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery!

Would you like to help transform Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery into a museum for the 21st century?

Birmingham Museums Trust is developing its plans for the future of the Museum and its displays, and wants to involve as many Birmingham people as we can. Read More...

7 Jun 2017

Volunteering at Sarehole Mill

Hi I’m Allan. I have been a volunteer Miller at Sarehole Mill since early 2013. I was initially inspired to become a volunteer at the Mill when I attended a local forum where a talk was being given by a member of staff from the Mill on the restoration program that was currently in progress. It was stated that they were looking for volunteers to be trained as Millers, to be ready for the opening on Easter Sunday 2013. Having now retired from work, and having a keen interest in baking bread, the idea of being able to mill my own flour was too good an opportunity to miss. So here I am a fully trained veteran in the world of corn milling!

As a Miller, my role is to get the machinery ready for milling. Put the grain into the hopper above the millstones, open up the penstocks to allow the water from the millpond to flow onto the waterwheel, and start the milling process. During milling, the grain feed, and the gap between the stones has to be constantly monitored and amended accordingly, to ensure fine flour is produced. Read More...

5 Jun 2017

Volunteering with the Curators

Hi, I’m Claire and I have been volunteering for Birmingham Museums for close to three years in various ways; at Weoley Castle, Blakesley Hall and perhaps the most intriguing of which is as a Curator’s Assistant to the History Curator working with the Sound Archive at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.


3 Jun 2017

Volunteering at Thinktank

Hi, I’m Sajida and I've been volunteering at Thinktank for around six months now. I began volunteering as an Exhibition Interpreter with the start of the exhibition ‘Mechanical Things’ which showcased machines from the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as well as the car itself! The exhibition also displayed other mechanical machines of Rowland Emett, the man who created the inventions for the movie. I really enjoyed volunteering for this exhibition and met some amazing people along the way. When the exhibition ended at the beginning of March, I decided to continue my volunteering at Thinktank as a Heritage Interpreter.


1 Jun 2017

Happy Volunteers Week 2017!

From the 1st June to the 7th June it is National Volunteers’ Week; that time of the year when we really celebrate the wonderful work of all our volunteers and say a massive thank you for their time and dedication.

Our team get up to all sorts of fun things from working behind the scenes with our collections to gardening and from engaging visitors at our sites to supporting new projects and we wanted to get some of them to tell you all about it! So this week we have three new blogs coming up meaning you can hear from Sajida about volunteering at Thinktank, learn about Allan’s experience volunteering as a Miller at Sarehole Mill and discover what it’s like volunteering with our Curator’s from Claire. Read More...

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10 May 2017

Sinclair C5 at Thinktank

The 1980s produced some wonderful inventions such as the walk man, the first Mobile Phone and the Space Shuttle, but it also produced some that seemed destined for failure. One such unfortunate invention was Sir Clive Sinclair’s C5. Not only does it rank as one of the most spectacular transport failures of the 1980s, but it also has the dubious distinction of being named the worst gadget of all time, but was it really as bad as we all seem to think?

Sir Clive Sinclair was known for being at the forefront of British innovation for many years by the time he tried his hand at vehicles. He had invented pocket radios, pocket TVs, electronic watches and was one of the visionaries who made personal computing a reality. Launched in 1980, his ZX-80 PC helped usher in the PC age. At a price of just £100 the ZX-80 was a hit and the machine put Sinclair at the heart of the United Kingdom’s PC revolution. Ongoing development resulted in the ZX-Spectrum that sold 5 million units following its launch in 1982. Read More...

18 Apr 2017

Win Afternoon Tea in the Edwardian Tearooms, followed by an exclusive stay at the Staying Cool serviced apartments!

This competition has now closed.

Delicious scones, heavenly Devonshire clotted cream, a selection of sandwiches and traditional afternoon tea – what more could you want?  Read More...

10 Apr 2017

From Coast to Coast

The distance between Valentia Island, a small island off the coast of Ireland, and Hearts Content, a fishing village in Newfoundland, is just over 3000km. In between the two lies the Atlantic Ocean, the second largest ocean on the planet. Yet, despite these crazy distances, a bit of Birmingham-based engineering helped bridge the gap and create a revolutionary communications network.

In the mid 1800s it would take around 10 days for a message to pass from North America to Europe, the average crossing speed for shipping vessels of the era. Many businessmen and inventors of the period had put their faith in a submerged telegraph cable to reduce the time taken for communications including Samuel Morse, the co-inventor of Morse code. Many successful experiments were undertaken, with different lengths of wires and different insulators being submerged and used to carry signals with the first commercial lines stretching between Dover and Calais in September 1851, with further cables later connecting Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands to Britain. These early cables were simple though and were very prone to breaking as their construction was often nothing more than a copper wire inside a flexible tube with a waterproof insulated covering; what was needed was a strong, durable and flexible alternative to protect the cables, especially at such depths as those found in the Atlantic Ocean.  Read More...

4 Apr 2017

Bikes and Bloomers: the ‘Rational’ Revolution

In the late nineteenth century John Kemp Starley revolutionised cycling when he patented the Safety Bicycle. The design was very different to earlier cycle models, noticeably in the size of the wheels. 

One of the earliest bicycle designs was the ‘ordinary’, commonly known as a Penny Farthing. This name was in reference to the two very different sized wheels, comparing them to British coinage of the time. The very large ‘penny’ wheel at the front with a much smaller ‘farthing’ wheel behind. Read More...