We are delighted that Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery will start to reopen in 2024. Here is some background on why we had to close, and how we plan to reopen.
When will Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery reopen?
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery will reopen in phases, starting in February 2024 with Victorian Radicals. This award-winning exhibition will return the city’s world-renowned collection of Pre-Raphaelites to Birmingham for the first time since 2018. Over the past five years these works have toured the United States, raising the profile of Birmingham and its collection with more than 168,000 visitors across eight cities. Victorian Radicals will be held in Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery’s major exhibition space, the Gas Hall, from 10th February and tickets are now on sale.
When did the Museum close, and why?
The Museum has been partially or fully closed since March 2020. Following Covid-19, a programme of essential maintenance works had to be carried out across the Grade II* listed museum building and the wider Council House complex. This has included electrical work, upgrades to heating, roof repairs, and replacing lifts.
Why did the Museum reopen briefly in 2022?
In 2022, with the spotlight on our city for the Commonwealth Games, more than 400,000 people visited the Museum when we reopened for a short series of pop-up exhibitions and displays curated in collaboration with creatives from across the city. We then closed again to allow maintenance work to complete.
What spaces will be the first to open?
Gas Hall will open first for the Victorian Radicals exhibition. Then, in time for the 2024 summer holidays, we plan to reopen historic civic spaces across the Museum including the Round Room, Industrial Gallery, Edwardian Tearooms, and Museum gift shop – with an exciting public programme to be announced.
Why is this a phased reopening?
We are reopening the Museum in phases to make best use of our limited resources. Having some spaces open and generating revenue for the Trust will help us accelerate work to improve and open other galleries across the Museum. This approach will also help us prioritise the re-introduction of learning and participation programmes that serve communities and schools across the West Midlands. We expect these to be underway for the new academic year in September 2024.
Why open with a ticketed exhibition?
The return of exhibitions in our Gas Hall and Waterhall spaces will generate much-needed income for the Museum from the admission charge, gift shop, and events. However, it is vital that we continue to make everything we do as accessible as we can – for all. For Victorian Radicals, children (up to 15) will visit free-of-charge, there will be open concession tickets, and an allocation of free tickets will be available to further support the Trust’s wider Community Welcome Pass Scheme.
What will be on display when the museum reopens?
2022’s partial reopening of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery was the first chance to see the journey Birmingham Museums Trust is embarking on to make the Museum and the organisation more representative of the people of the city with a new approach to galleries and displays, all created in partnership with the people of the city. When we reopen, displays will be different to before. We are continuing to work with people and partners across the city to develop these new displays, so that they tell the stories and display the objects that people most want to see when the museum reopens.
Will the Pre-Raphaelites and Staffordshire Hoard be back on display when the museum reopens?
Yes. We recognise that the Pre-Raphaelite artworks and the Staffordshire Hoard are two of our most treasured and popular collections. We will ensure these are on display when the museum reopens.
We are carrying out new research into the Pre-Raphaelite collection and plan to display some new stories about the artworks when the museum reopens.
Will there be a gallery for children when the museum opens?
The museum will have displays and activities for children and families, such as the popular Ancient Egypt collection.
In the meantime, we have a great offer for families at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum.
How much of the museum will eventually reopen?
We plan to reopen as much of the museum as possible. The displays will be different to before. We continue to work with people and partners across the city to develop these new displays, so that they tell the stories and display the objects that people most want to see when Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery reopens.
Where have objects and artworks been kept during closure?
The museum objects were put safely into storage before the infrastructure works began.
This was a huge undertaking by our collections team to ensure 35,000 objects (26,000 works on paper, 1,000 paintings, and 8,000 objects) were checked, packed, and carefully moved.
The Staffordshire Hoard can be seen on display at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. Many other objects and artworks are on loan to other venues across the region and country. See the full list on the objects on loan page. Some of the stored objects can be seen at the Museum Collection Centre, the main store for Birmingham Museums, which holds around a million items. The Museum Collection Centre is open to the public once a week for pre-booked tours.
Who is funding the work?
The electrical upgrade is part of Birmingham City Council’s works.
Funding has been secured via the Government’s Museums Estate and Development Fund (MEND) for the roof and other infrastructure works such as new lifts.
What does the City Council’s section 114 (s.114) notice, served in September 2023, mean for Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery?
Over the past few months, we have worked closely with the Council to limit the impact of the section 114 (s.114) notice. We are focused on welcoming visitors back to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in 2024 and on creating a financially sustainable plan that will allow the city’s museums and collections to play a full and inclusive role in the region’s civic life in the months and years ahead.
Who is Birmingham Museums Trust?
Birmingham Museums is an independent charitable trust formed in 2012 that cares for over 1 million objects and nine museums on behalf of the City Council and the people of Birmingham. Birmingham Museums venues are Aston Hall, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Blakesley Hall, Museum Collection Centre, Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, Sarehole Mill, Soho House, Thinktank and Weoley Castle.
Keeping everyone safe
What are our safety measures?
We want to make sure your visit is as safe and enjoyable as possible so some safety measures will continue:
- We support staff and visitors who wish to wear a face covering.
- Staff who test positive for COVID-19 isolate at home for at least 5 days until they have two successive negative tests.
- We have hand sanitisers at the entrance and throughout the building.
- Contactless card payments will limit personal interaction, but cash will also be accepted.
- We have cleaners working throughout the day focusing on touch points and toilets to keep them safe and clean.
Please do not visit us if you are feeling unwell, have any symptoms of Covid-19 or have been in contact with anyone that has had the virus in the last 10 days. Please contact us if you have any further questions.