In just four weeks’ time Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery will unpack a series of pop-up displays and live events that bring a different feel to the historic building for the Commonwealth Games and Birmingham 2022 Festival.
On Thursday, 28 April, 2022, the Round Room, Industrial Gallery, Edwardian Tearooms, Gallery 10 and Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery Shop will reopen seven days a week. The Bridge Gallery will also reopen to showcase a selection of gems from the civic collection and invite feedback on what people want to see from the museum when it reopens fully.
The partial reopening will take place while Birmingham City Council’s essential electrical works programme continues safely in other areas of the building. The areas reopening in April will close again in December 2022 to allow maintenance work to continue before the building reopens fully in 2024.
It is the first time since October 2020 that visitors will be able to return to one of Birmingham’s most popular visitor attractions and to mark the occasion the galleries are being handed over to some of the city’s most exciting creatives who have responded to the theme of ‘This Is Birmingham’.
The five displays will bring together themes such as culture identity, community, and media, with new objects on display and live events as well as space for visitors to join in and contribute. The displays will be supported by a programme of live events including talks, performances and a series of Edwardian Tearooms ‘Lates’ over the course of the year.
Visitors will also be able to enjoy the city’s first major art exhibition since the pandemic when Gas Hall reopens on Saturday, 14 May, with an Arts Council Collection exhibition curated by Turner Prize-winning and internationally-renowned artist Lubaina Himid CBE. Found Cities, Lost Objects: Women in the City, opens in Birmingham with a selection of local works before touring galleries and museums across the UK.
The new exhibition invites visitors to consider the experiences of women in the city, as seen through the lens of art.
April’s partial reopening is the first chance to see the journey the museum will be going on to make it more representative of the people of the city with a new approach to galleries, exhibitions and objects on display, all driven and curated with the people of the city.
Sara Wajid and Zak Mensah, Co-CEOs of Birmingham Museums Trust, said: “Having spoken to the creative teams behind the partner displays and seen their displays taking shape we’re so excited to be unpacking Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in just four weeks – for the Commonwealth Games and the Birmingham 2022 Festival.
“The museum is going to feel very different this summer with a new approach to exhibitions and how visitors enjoy the themes on display and the galleries hosting them.
“While some of the spaces may feel different there will always be a warm welcome and we want everyone to join us for a look around or a hot drink and lunch in the lovely Edwardian Tearooms.”
Martin Green CBE, Chief Creative Officer, Birmingham 2022, said: “Bringing multiple creative companies together under one roof for this series of pop-up displays is really exciting. Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is a major cultural force in the city and this fresh direction and openness speaks volumes about Birmingham and the region.”
Animating the Round Room and Industrial Gallery, are Birmingham Music Archive, Fierce, Flatpack Projects, Kalaboration Arts and working in collaboration with Birmingham Museums – Don’t Settle, in partnership with Beatfreeks.
Don’t Settle: We Are Birmingham
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery’s partial reopening will be launched with a radical transformation of the stunning Round Room. We Are Birmingham will reflect the people of 21st Century Birmingham. Co-curated by Birmingham Museums and a group of six young People of Colour from Don't Settle, a project of Beatfreeks, the new display will present a vivid celebration of the city that Birmingham is now as well as aspirations of what the city could become.
Birmingham Music Archive: In The Que
A sensory exhibition will celebrate one of Birmingham’s greatest music venues – the Que Club. Curated by Birmingham Music Archive and Pretty Hate Production, In The Que, will feature previously unseen photographs by critically acclaimed photographer Terence Donovan, personal artefacts, archive film footage, flyers and posters and a 35 minute documentary film. Reflecting the experiences of the Que Club – from the ravers to the DJs, musicians to staff – the exhibition will encourage visitors and former clubbers to share memories and join in a lively programme of events.
Fierce: SaVĀge K’Lub: Vā TAMATEA
New Zealand/Aotearoa artists Rosanna Raymond and Jaimie Waititi present a SaVĀge K’Lubroom in a secretive corner of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. The installation reclaims the gentlemen’s clubs of the same name first established in London in the 19th century. SaVĀge K’Lub poses the question: what might it mean to be a savage today?
Vā TAMATEA is the calm surface above the churning currents that unearth tāonga (treasured possessions) from Birmingham’s collection. SaVĀge K’Lub is interested in the rupture of the Vā (a Samoan term for ‘space’) that was brought about by the exchange of tāonga during 'first contact' between European explorers and Polynesian peoples. Part of Fierce’s Healing Gardens of Bab.
Flatpack Projects: Wonderland
Wonderland by Flatpack Projects and presented by Birmingham 2022 Festival will explore how cinema has shaped the streets, social lives and dreams of Brummies over the past 125 years. Flatpack plans to map all 150 plus cinemas in the city – from fairgrounds to multiplexes and from South Asian extravaganzas to pop-ups. The display will showcase photographs and cinema memorabilia, alongside Birmingham’s collection of magic lanterns and optical toys. Visitors can join in by sharing their own cinema-going memories, watch film screenings or take part in drop-in activities.
Kalaboration Arts: Blacklash: Racism and the Struggle for Self-Defence
From the mid-1980s and over a period of two decades, artist, cultural activist and filmmaker Mukhtar Dar, documented the struggles of Asian and African Caribbean communities against racism. Blacklash: Racism and the Struggle for Self-Defence, by Kalaboration Arts, draws on Mukhtar’s extensive archive of photos, videos and other political ephemera providing a historical context for contemporary anti-racism movements such as Black Lives Matter, as well as encouraging reflection, discussion and debate.
Finally, an additional exhibition will invite visitors to take a moment to pause and reflect on all that has passed in Birmingham over the last two years of living with Covid-19. Unprecedented Times, developed in partnership with Birmingham City Council’s Public Health Division and Birmingham Museums’ Community Action Panel, will explore survival of the human spirit in public crises past and present. The display will explore themes of hope and loss featuring historic objects from Birmingham’s collection alongside new work and photography by Birmingham-based artists.