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17 Dec 2019

Volunteer Views:
Visitors to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Hello everybody. This is my third blog and with a slightly different theme it is devoted to the interesting things people say while I am volunteering at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

While volunteering, I came across a visitor speaking to a colleague because she couldn't find King Feisal. She was very anxious because she believed that he "had gone". I thought I would see what I could do to find him. 

This is an occasion where a smart phone comes in handy!  Remembering King Feisal being a frequent news item in the 1960s and 70s I knew how to spell his name and thought that I could guess the period of the painting. I hurried around the galleries assuming that his image would be among modern paintings. Well readers I found him. The painting of a seated figure in a creamy white headdress gazing into the distance was located in the Modern British Art gallery.  I rushed back to the distracted lady and hoped that I had found the right king. We walked at speed past other visitors and the now relieved visitor exclaimed "Here he is”. I was very relieved. 

The painting by Augustus John captures the regal, thoughtful gaze of a man who is unsmiling and dignified. He wears a scarf fixed over his head encircled with a binding. His cloak and other clothing is dark grey through to black. The King had been a participant in a Versailles Peace Conference. I left the visitor gazing at him with a smile of adoration on her face, saying "I found him”.  (Please note that King Feisal is not currently on display at the time of writing this blog).

Another visitor, apparently captivated by the stained-glass windows in the Industrial Gallery, told me of his uncle who had been employed by Chance, makers of stained glass based in Smethwick. His relative had apparently invented and developed a special metallic colour, which he had kept a secret both from his colleagues and employers. He would volunteer to work late so nobody saw him working. The secret went to his grave. What a great story!

Stained glass in the Industrial Gallery

School groups come in frequently to the Museum as you might guess and it is always great to see them exploring the galleries. A large group came in recently, with at least 30 young people. They spent hours, or so it seemed, beavering away completing work charts and exploring the space. They brought with them a very calm atmosphere and it was a pleasure to chat to them.

The nights are drawing in, Santa Claus is visiting Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and I have bought one of the super Advent Calendars in the shop! 

Advent calendars in the shop