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2 Nov 2017

Birmingham Manufactures: Chad Valley

If you are following the Birmingham Manufactures Project in twitter (@BrumMfr ) you may have noticed in the past couple of months that we have been looking at Chad Valley toys. I’m sure many of you will recognise that name from your own childhood, and if you have small children it will certainly be familiar! The company history is extensive, but here is a little about how they developed and some examples of Chad Valley in our collections!

The company was originally involved in printing, engraving, bookbinding and the production of stationery, starting life under the trading name of Messrs. Johnson Bros. Taking its name from its proprietors, it was started by Joseph Johnson who in his former years had worked for his father’s stationery company. In 1897, Joseph moved the company to Harborne, and his new factory was named the Chad Valley Works due to its close proximity to a stream called the Chad. Despite the name of the factory, Johnson’s company was trading as Johnson Bros. (Harborne) Ltd and didn’t change its name for a further 20 years or so. As well as still producing stationery, the company had also started production of a range of cardboard games. Read More...

20 Oct 2017

Creepy Cats and Flappy Bats

Halloween is fast approaching, so expect hoards of witches and skies full of bats, bubbling cauldrons, vampires and cats. Watch out for mummies and zombies and ghosts at your back. Collect lots of candy and spook out your friends, there’s lots in store before that frightful night ends!

At Thinktank, we have our spooky science week so come and join us for a scare fest! We have our Science of Fright show , spooky arts and crafts , hair raising science and we’re topping it off with our Spooky Science Night on the 28th of October.  Read More...

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19 Oct 2017

Half Term Family Fun - Get into the ‘spirit’ of Halloween at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Come along to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery for some Half Term family fun as we get into the ‘spirit’ of Halloween!

We will be holding make-and-take activities every day during the week, from brains in jars to fiendish drawbotz. Bring your little mummies, witches and vampires to the Monster Madness Party, perfect entertainment for 'dead' good dancers!  Read More...

17 Oct 2017

Whitworth Wallis Artist in Residence Blog 2017 – Week Four

The last week as resident artists in Gallery 15 began with a strong focus to achieve much as possible prior to the residencies end, and an event scheduled to mark the end of our time here. Continuing with the development of ideas, we used this week to begin concluding concepts, narrowing down and reflecting, so that we could begin to cement and solidify intentions going forward. Much progress has been made in a short period of time, with several ideas being to really take form and evolve, heading towards becoming ready for production, where through discussion we decided to continue only with what we felt were the strongest of these. 


6 Oct 2017

Whitworth Wallis Artist in Residence Blog 2017 – Week Three

Week three of the residency at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery followed the continuation of the previous week’s data collecting and reflection. 

Building up the material in the studio space is proving useful, while also helping to grab the curiosity of any visitors passing through Gallery 15. Having a constant open studio exposes our research and development to the general public, a completely different dynamic to how we’ve worked before, yet you can see through their inquisitiveness that there is an interest there. That the narrative we are putting forward is beginning to grab the viewer’ attention, which in turn is pushing developments quickly as we begin to focus on final ideas. It has become a key element that is supporting our progress and process. Read More...

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29 Sep 2017

The making of a people’s museum – one gallery space at a time

Museums are a treasure chest, a hoard of objects brimming with multi-layered histories. 

Behind the glass panes of illuminated cases or hanging in frames in perfectly measured mathematical rows are collections that draw local art appreciators, inquisitive explorers and accidental walk-through the door-ers. Whether they’ve come to see the galleries housing the ancient Egyptian or the Modern European, the items in a museum exist as portals to the past; key holders to the personal stories of its makers, thinkers, creators and contributors. True, the modern age of technology has its own place in art galleries, providing an alternative expression of a concept or reflection on our current world, even allowing for online access to collections. But what about the tangible collections and objects not seen by the public eye, the ones that aren’t currently in the cases or on the walls? Read More...

28 Sep 2017

Beer with the Incas: a 500 year old Kero from Peru

Tucked away on the back staircase of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is a fascinating selection of ancient Peruvian artefacts which are part of a larger collection of items from the Ancient Americas. The particular object I would like to focus on is a wooden kero with incised and lacquered decoration.

A kero is a drinking vessel without handles that is wider at the top than at the base, gently curving upwards and outwards in a trumpet-like fashion. Keros were made by Andean cultures before and during Inca rule (1438 – 1532), and they continued being produced after the time of Spanish conquest. Read More...

19 Sep 2017

Volunteering with Birmingham Manufactures

Three hundred words (or so) on our week as Summer Research Assistants for the Birmingham Manufacturers Project.

Armed with subject files of photographs, a scanner, and an Apple Mac we set to work to see what exactly you could learn in just a week on the project.  Read More...

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14 Sep 2017

Remember a Charity Week: Stanley Sellers’ Legacy

As part of Remember a Charity Week, we are celebrating some of the amazing, generous gifts in Wills which have been left to Birmingham Museums by supporters. Whether it’s helping us conserve the collection or educate and engage people of all ages, gifts in wills can have a significant impact on our charity.

If you have visited the Museum & Art Gallery, you will almost certainly have seen the display of 20th-century British studio ceramics, which were collected by Birmingham-born Stanley Sellers (1933-2013) who worked as an architect in the city for more than 30 years. Read More...

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31 Aug 2017

Whitworth Wallis Artist in Residence Blog 2017 – Week Two

The studio, Gallery 15, is quickly becoming a hive for creativity and discussion. Now open almost constantly to the public, it is evident that our initial research and place within the museum’s collection are beginning to gain momentum. Ideas are flowing and documentation of the space is really feeding into that. The beginning of the week involved layering up that documentation and research, building a foundation from which we will continue our investigation, the hidden collection of Birmingham’s museum and art gallery. We decided to use the studio space as a ‘live’ sketchbook, one constantly in flux with movement.