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22 Jan 2018

Igbo Jug

Hi everyone! It’s Emma MacNicol, Collections Trainee here at Birmingham Museums Trust, and I’d like to share with everyone something about a jug…

I first came across this vessel when putting away objects from the World Arts collection emptied from Gallery 33 in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Tucked away in one of the cabinets was this very un-assuming jug. Made from clay and used to carry water or palm wine, it was made by an Igbo tribe in the Cross River state of Nigeria in the late 19th Century. Igbo are one of the many tribes in Nigeria and one of the many people who drink palm wine across West Africa. Made by collecting and then fermenting sap from the palm tree, palm wine is an alcoholic drink that had particular significance in traditional Igbo culture. It was incorporated into many customs such as weddings and gatherings. Vessels like this jug may have been used to carry palm wine by suitors who were meeting their future in-laws for the first time. As it was customary to bring large quantities of the drink as a gift to the family. There are different variants of palm wine, with each type being used for what occasion dependant on the various Igbo tribes. When distilled, palm wine becomes a stronger drink known locally as ‘Ogogoro’. Although, Ogogoro is largely associated more with other tribes in Nigeria, like the Urhobo. Read More...

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16 Jan 2018

A Recipe for a City Feast

What memories does food stir up for you? Is it the aroma of caramelised onions and nutty spices? Sandwiches and chocolate rolls on a sunny picnic? Or perhaps sharing Sunday dinner or celebrating Iftar with your family?

These are just a few of the memories that visitors to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery have shared over the last few months in a series of writing activities and workshops, with Birmingham writer Mandy Ross. Read More...

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8 Jan 2018

"If museums did not exist, would we re-invent them and what would they look like?" - author Robert Janes

Though provoking inter-connections are presently being made at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The galleries housing Soul City Arts’ Knights of the Raj oral history exhibition on the Bangladeshi origins of the city’s curry trade (ends January 14th 2017), the iconic Burne-Jones collection and decolonial curatorial experiment The Past is Now: Birmingham and the British Empire sit next to each other in a angular shape on the museum’s second floor. 

The challenging and difficult journey that the Museum staff and the group of co-curators that produced The Past is Now undertook has been powerfully and honestly documented by Sumaya Kassim in her essay The Museum Will Not Be Decolonised. It is essential reading, and should be regarded as an integral part of the exhibition.  Read More...

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22 Dec 2017

The Ghost of Christendom by Keith Piper

In December it feels inevitable that Christmas will impact most of the population in some way or another. Keith Piper’s Ghost of Christendom explores the complex connections between Christianity, slavery and the British Empire. Made up of 18 framed sections of computer montage images printed on white laser paper, this work was originally displayed at the Ikon gallery in the exhibition ‘A Ship Called Jesus’ in 1991. It had been shown there above a grave of broken glass opposite a headstone inscribed with an account of the 1564 slave-trade voyage by Elizabeth 1’s envoy John Hawkins.

Images in the montage include a photograph of the artists own feet, the infamous illustration of enslaved people as cargo on a slave ship published by T. Clarkson in 1808; flames and chains. The image imitates stain glass and the crucifix shape cements the reference to artwork seen in churches, particularly depictions of Jesus’s crucifixion. Read More...

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18 Dec 2017

My work placement in Marketing and Communications at Birmingham Museums Trust

Hi everyone! I’m Beth Gordon-Taylor, and I’m a second year student at the University of Birmingham. I’m currently doing a work placement in Communications with Birmingham Museums Trust (BMT) as part of my degree. 

For 7 weeks now, I have been here every Thursday learning all about the Marketing department which is situated in Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. I wanted to undertake this placement because I enjoy being creative with words and enjoy history and the arts – therefore it seemed perfect to get some experience with Birmingham Museums! After university, I’m keen to continue exploring the world of marketing and public relations. Read More...

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12 Dec 2017

The Past is Now: the Exhibition is open

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery has opened an exciting and interesting exhibition entitled: The Past is Now: Birmingham and the British Empire . The display addresses Birmingham's role within the British Empire and looks at how these stories are relevant today.

Read More...

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10 Dec 2017

Thinktank Closed Due to Severe Weather

Thinktank will be closed on Sunday December 10th and Monday December 11th 2017 due to the severe weather conditions and the advice not to travel from the Highways Agency.

We hope to re-open as soon as we can. Please check the website or look at Thinktank on Twitter and Facebook before travelling to visit us. Read More...

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6 Dec 2017

The Collection Support Trainee Diaries: Part 2

Hello again everyone! I’m back with part two of my Trainee Diaries. It’s been a few months since you last heard from me and there’s been many-a changes in that time. Mainly that my placement here at Birmingham Museums has now come to an end and while I’m very excited for my next steps, it’s not without sadness that I look back on my time here. I’ve loved it so much and I’m sorry to be leaving the great people and objects I’ve had the pleasure to work with. It doesn’t seem very fair that I should keep all the wonderful things I’ve learnt to myself. So, I thought for my parting blog, it would be nice to share some of the fantastic objects I’ve come across while doing various tasks here at the Museum Collections Centre and some things working with all these objects have taught me. Enjoy!

Read More...

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28 Nov 2017

Birmingham Trams - The Rise and Fall and Rise again

We currently have the Festival of Thinktank running here at Thinktank between November and February. As part of the festival I’ve enjoyed providing our audiences with amazing facts on the rise and fall and rise again of Birmingham trams. Along the way I will be providing you with some knowledge on our tram here on permanent display at Thinktank and how she came here. I shall also be explaining about a current tram called Ozzy Osborne! 

Let’s depart on our journey through time. Our story begins with the steam science that started things off. In 1774, James Watt improved the steam engine and the whole world took note. Watt protected his improved steam engine with a patent, which stopped other inventors copying his improvements made. Read More...

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24 Nov 2017

The making of our Teachers pack and educators preview day

In community learning, for practitioners I’d suggest there comes a moment when the decade you were educated in comes into sharp focus with the present. A dizzying self-realisation and shift of time when you compare a formative decade in your own life to now. That for me came recently working with my amazing colleague Angelica Vanasse at the Walker Gallery.

Together we have written a teachers / educators PHSE pack (personal, social, and health education). It’s a rich document that was a joy to write, covering aspects in young people’s learning such as equality, diversity, empathy and judgement. It carries with it a series of self-guided activities educators can do in the exhibition “Coming out – Sexuality, Gender and Identity ” that use some of the nation’s finest contemporary art as reference points. Read More...