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History & heritage
02 Sep 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

A tour (over the years) of the galleries at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

Before 2012 I wasn't sure if you could take photos inside Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery so took some but not much. But when the Birmingham Museums Trust took over from the council, photo restrictions were relaxed and it was now ok to take photos in the galleries (unless you were told not to). Some of the permenant galleries have changed over the years.

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A tour (over the years) of the galleries at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery





Before 2012 I wasn't sure if you could take photos inside Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery so took some but not much. But when the Birmingham Museums Trust took over from the council, photo restrictions were relaxed and it was now ok to take photos in the galleries (unless you were told not to). Some of the permenant galleries have changed over the years.


Enter the museum at the Chamberlain Square entrance. And head up the stairs. You go around this ellaborate entrance hall. This view from April 2012. This quote from Pevsner "The upper landing with covered ceiling and square rooflight".

The Round Room seen in March 2012. There are paintings around the room. This view towards the Chamberlain Square exit / entrance. The shop and the Industrial Gallery are to the left. In the centre of the room is Jabob Epstein's Lucifer. This description from Pevsner "The impressive Round Room, with plain walls for hanging pictures and a low conical glass roof above a strapwork band of circles and hexagons".

We now enter the Industrial Gallery. In this view below from March 2012 looking up to the ceiling. There is steps to the floor above where you can see Ruskin pottery. The following quote from Pevsner: "The Industrial Gallery is all in exposed ironwork: seven aisled bays with columns in two tiers, semicircular arcades and cross-arches in the aisles, larger semicircular trusses supporting the roof, all of them exposed I-beams with the rivets prominent. Like a classical version of the Oxford Museum; but the immediate inspiration must be J.H. Chamberlain's Board Schools. Huge pendant  gas burners. T-plan staircase of 1893, with a different design of railings".

Another view of the Industrial Gallery but from the floor with Ruskin Pottery during April 2012. The gift shop is just beyond the archway. They also have up here: Wedgwood pottery, English pottery, English Porcelain, De Morgan Pottery, Worcester Porcelain and others. The Soho House Sphinxes are now back at Soho House.

Now above the Edwardian Tea Room. This floor has metalworks such as gates and iron objects. Also steel plates, candlesticks and cups. This view from April 2012.

A look at the Edwardian Tea Room as it was during April 2012. The room outside used to be the Buddha Gallery, but is now the Mini Museum for kids (there is a new Faith Gallery in another part of the museum now). Here's a quote from Pevsner: "The present Tea Room has a cantilevered iron gallery and impressive, slightly Romanesque, details e.g. blind arcading with paired colonnettes".

The Edwardian Tea Room was given a new look and I went up to the Metalworks Gallery during August 2014 for a look below. All new furniture, tables and chairs. It can get quite busy in here. But if you don't want to come in here, there is also a new cafe just on the other side of the link bridge.

The Link Bridge between the 1885 built museum and the Council House Extension completed in about 1911. I found it to be empty during January 2019. but there are normally pictures on the walls, but BM & AG staff rotate what they put in here quite a lot. Oh and that new cafe is at the far end of here, to the left, if you were wondering. Sit inside, or sit on the seats outside of it.

In November 2018, I found this gallery with blue walls to be completely empty. It was between temporary exhibitions. Modern British Art may have been in here before. By January 2019 they were decorating this gallery, and it opened for a short while in late January 2019 as "Too Cute! Sweet is about to get Sinister" Curated by Rachel Maclean. It opened on the 26th January and it ran until the 12th May 2019. Saw it myself during February 2019.

Now a look at some temporary exhibitions in the main galleries. This was called The Past is Now - Birmingham and the British Empire. I saw it during January 2018.

New Art West Midlands seen in one of the galleries during April 2013. This sculpture is called: Man and his Sheep 1989 by Ana Maria Pacheco. Wood, paint, teeth. The artist is from Brazil. Seven figures huddle around an almost naked man holding a sheep's head on a pole. This sculpture is now back in one of the galleries at BM & AG after coming out of storage.

In the Modern British Art gallery during January 2013. This is the Rock Drill Reconstruction made in 1974, based on the original of 1913-15. It was designed by Sir Jacob Epstein (1880 - 1959). Made of Polyester resin, metals and wood. Epstein created his original in 1913. It was a life-size plaster figure of a visored robotic man seated upon an actual rock drill. It was shown briefly in 1915 before being dismantled. This is a reconstruction made in 1974 from Epstein's studio photographs. It was presented to the museum in 1982. Epstein destroyed his original Rock Drill, but there are still photos of the original Rock Drill by Jacob Epstein.

This is the Ancient Egypt Gallery as seen during March 2012. There is a set of friezes around this room. At the time the gallery below featured artifacts from Ancient Greece & Rome, but BM & AG later turned that gallery into the new Staffordshire Hoard Gallery. So I'm not quite sure where those objects have gone (if they are still in the museum, or moved to the Birmingham Museums Collections Centre). These galleries are quite close to the Great Charles Street Queensway entrance (now no longer in use).

The second Staffordshire Hoard Gallery as seen from above from the Ancient Egypt Gallery (the one with the friezes all around). Seen for the first time during October 2014. It opened on the 17th October 2014, and this photo was taken the following day on the 18th October 2014. I've not taken close up photos of the hoard pieces (not sure if you are allowed to do so). As when the old gallery was open, I don't think they allowed photos of the pieces of the hoard.

Going back to March 2012 and this gallery with historical objects relating to African History. Around the room is this  plaster cast of the Frieze of the Nereid Monument (original in the British Museum dated to 380 B.C.). Gallery 33 is below.

A look at Gallery 33 during March 2012. From the same gallery above with the African artifacts and the frieze. It was an exhibition about the way people live, beliefs, values, customs and art from around the world. In recent years this gallery has been closed off to the public. Seem to use it for storage, photo shoots and other things.

There used to be an entrance on Great Charles Street Queensway (the doors are still there), but when Paradise Birmingham started (the roadworks) that entrance was closed off. Since the roadworks were completed the entrance has remained closed (so Edmund Street or Chamberlain Square are the only other entrances still in use to this day). But I have used it in the past. One of my earliest photos of this Forward coat of arms stained glass window from the steps during July 2009.

A zoom in of the Forward coat of arms from the staircase near the Great Charles Street Queensway entrance during April 2012.

Another window seen on the same day during April 2012. This one with the Forward shield of Birmingham.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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40 passion points
Civic pride
29 Aug 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Watt in the World: The Life and Legacy of James Watt, 1736-1819

There is an exhibition on from the 12th July to 2nd November 2019 at the Library of Birmingham in The Gallery on Level 3 about James Watt (1736-1819). He died 200 years ago so it is the bicentenary of his death. Organised by The Lunar Society. It is 10 years since a Matthew Boulton exhibition in the Gas Hall (he died in 1809).

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Watt in the World: The Life and Legacy of James Watt, 1736-1819





There is an exhibition on from the 12th July to 2nd November 2019 at the Library of Birmingham in The Gallery on Level 3 about James Watt (1736-1819). He died 200 years ago so it is the bicentenary of his death. Organised by The Lunar Society. It is 10 years since a Matthew Boulton exhibition in the Gas Hall (he died in 1809).


Watt in the World

Head up to Level 3 in the Library of Birmingham for Watt in the World: The Life and Legacy of James Watt, 1736-1819.

James Watt (1736-1819) Life and Legacy. The portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), 1812. Was commissioned by James Watt junior.

A quote by William Wordsworth on Watt: 'Considering both the magnitude and the universality of his genius .... perhaps the most extraordinary man this country has ever produced ...'

Marble bust of James Watt you would see as you walk into The Gallery. Perhaps the same one that is at Soho House? Behind the 1812 portrait of James Watt by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Model of the Soho Lap Engine by David Hulse. The Soho Lap Engine was built in 1788 to provide power to make coins at Matthew Boulton's Soho Manufactory.

The Soho Lap Engine - it was projected on the wall.

The Boulton & Watt Steam Engine. Here was some drawings of Boulton & Watts steam engine.

James Watt's Legacy. One of these pictures was a Japanese print. Also shows the statue of Boulton, Watt & Murdoch (which is still in storage until it eventually gets placed in the new look Centenary Square - when I don't know).

James Watt and Popular Culture. Various objects in the tables under the glass. Also History West Midlands: The Power to Change the World.

Portrait of Matthew Boulton by Sir William Beechey, 1810. Watt commissioned this version of Sir William Beechley's 1798 portrait of Boulton shortly after the death of his friend in 1809. It was originally displayed at Heathfield Hall, but after Watt's death James Watt junior moved it to Aston Hall where it was hung opposite Beechley's portrait of his father.

Portrait of James Watt by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), 1812. James Watt junior commissioned Sir Thomas Lawrence to paint this portrait of his father. Watt junior had never liked Sir William Beechley's early 1801 portrait, but in order not to offend Beechley he asked his friend George Lee to say that the new portrait was for him.

10 years ago was another exhibition but on Matthew Boulton at the Gas Hall. The exhibition was called: Matthew Boulton: Selling what all the world desires. It was in the Gas Hall at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery from the 30th May to 27th September 2009. Matthew Boulton was born in 1728 and died in 1809, so 2009 was the bicentenary of his death (like 2019 is the bicentenary of Watt's death). I took this photo outside in August 2009 near Edmund Street (and under the BM & AG link bridge) from Chamberlain Square.

I took a couple of photos of this exhibition in the Gas Hall before I was told off. Was photo restrictions back then. I went in July 2009. Bust of Matthew Boulton, probably like in the window at Soho House. Even when I went to Soho House in July 2010 I had to sign a photo disclaimer (I think they no longer do this since the Birmingham Museums Trust took over in 2012 from Birmingham City Council).

A model of a Boulton & Watt steam engine. I was told off by a guard when I took this photo and took no more photos in this exhibition.

This is a Treadle Lathe dating to 1762. With 18th to 19th century blacksmith's anvil, bellows and weights, top and bottom swage, and hand tools. Took this photo before the steam engine model, so before the guard said "no photos allowed".

Since 2012 the museums photo policy has been relaxed since Birmingham Museums took over. And I've had no problems in the Gas Hall at other exhibitions in the years since.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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40 passion points
People & community
27 Aug 2019 - Elliott Brown
News & Updates

Home of Metal at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery presents Black Sabbath 50 Years - Elliott went to visit

This Black Sabbath exhibition at the Gas Hall in the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery opened on the 26th June 2019, running until 29th September 2019. I finally booked my ticket online and went on the morning of 23rd August 2019. The museum opens at 10:30am on Friday's, so had to wait until they unlocked the doors. Spent around half an hour looking round the exhibition.

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Home of Metal at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery presents Black Sabbath 50 Years - Elliott went to visit





This Black Sabbath exhibition at the Gas Hall in the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery opened on the 26th June 2019, running until 29th September 2019. I finally booked my ticket online and went on the morning of 23rd August 2019. The museum opens at 10:30am on Friday's, so had to wait until they unlocked the doors. Spent around half an hour looking round the exhibition.


My full gallery of photos is now on my Flickr here Home of Metal: Black Sabbath 50 Years. The official website for Home of Metal relating to this exhibition and for booking your ticket online is here Home of Metal: Black Sabbath 50 Years a Major Exhibition.

While the usual route to Chamberlain Square is blocked off due to the Paradise Birmingham works, you can go round the back via Eden Place and Edmund Street. When the doors are open you can go in via the Edmund Street entrance for the Gas Hall. Just show your QR code in the email or PDF, and head through the revolving doors. Ticket was £12 plus £1.57 fee (£13.57 in total).

 

First thing you would see is this Black Sabbath sign. Take a selfie here. Only a year ago this view would have been on Dippy the dinosaur!

Buy your Black Sabbath merchandise from here. T-shirts were £20 when I had a proper look. Was other items such as mugs and coasters. You can also buy Black Sabbath items from the main museum shop.

Later saw this sign in the Black Sabbath merchandise shop area. They invented Heavy Metal. And it led to all other forms of metal music around the world.

Behind the shop was a collection of Black Sabbath t-shirts that the fans could buy or have bought in the past. "It's the people's music, it always has been" - Bill Ward.

Harley Davidson motorbike from 2006. Courtesty of Ric Lovett. It has been heavily customised displaying the owner's love of Black Sabbath.

In the centre was this darkened area. At the back was Ozzy and Tony. Later went back in here to find Geezer and Bill at the other side.

Back of display cases. This side stars with Ozzy in period photos from the 1970s probably.

The other end of the back of those display cases. Ozzy Osbourne the main singer, Geezer Butler was the bassist, Tony Iommi on the guitar and Bill Ward on the drums.

A recreation of Tony Iommi's home recording studio.

A recreation of the Black Sabbath stage with some of the costumes that they may have worn. They played at venues all over the world.

One corner had a display about Ozzy Osbourne, as well as a drawing of him! Known the world over as the "Prince of Darkness".

A Black Sabbath fans living room, belonging to Stephen Knowles. Quite a collection of Black Sabbath memorabilia here.

I'd seen photos of this on Social Media. Where are you from? A map of the world. Of course I took off a red sticker and placed it over Birmingham! Fans mostly from the West Midlands and around Europe. Some from the America's, China and Australia / New Zealand as well.

In the far right hand corner of the Gas Hall was these guitars. Apparently you can try and play them. Was also another selfie spot! Around here showing all the albums that Black Sabbath released.

The other side of the guitars and world map. This end of the museum is usually for kids to play or draw. Just behind here is kid tables for colouring in Black Sabbath pictures.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

For more posts and a great gallery of photos go HERE.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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60 passion points
Modern Architecture
27 Aug 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Birmingham Municipal Bank: Birmingham's Hidden Spaces during Birmingham Heritage Week (September 2015)

The only time I was able to go inside of the Birmingham Municipal Bank on Broad Street was back in September 2015. Birmingham's Hidden Spaces was hosting the free visit during Birmingham Heritage Week. You could look around, go down the vaults (the areas that were safe to go to). I've also got exteriors from years before / after as well. University of Birmingham taking it over.

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Birmingham Municipal Bank: Birmingham's Hidden Spaces during Birmingham Heritage Week (September 2015)





The only time I was able to go inside of the Birmingham Municipal Bank on Broad Street was back in September 2015. Birmingham's Hidden Spaces was hosting the free visit during Birmingham Heritage Week. You could look around, go down the vaults (the areas that were safe to go to). I've also got exteriors from years before / after as well. University of Birmingham taking it over.


Some history. Birmingham Municipal Bank headquarters. It was at 301 Broad Street in Birmingham. The building was by Thomas Cecil Howitt and was opened on the 27 November 1933 by Prince George. It was built as the headquarters for the Birmingham Municipal Bank. It ceased to be a department of the Council who sold it in 1976, becoming a Trustee Savings Bank. The TSB (later Lloyds TSB) left the building in 2006 selling it back to Birmingham City Council. It has been a Grade II listed building since 1996. The University of Birmingham completed the purchase of the former bank in November 2017, and it will become a venue to showcase it's display of it's research and host performances and exhibitions.

Full album on my Flickr here Birmingham Municipal Bank.

 

One of my first photos of the former Municipal Bank taken on Broad Street during December 2009. By this point the bank had been closed for about 3 years and still had a Lloyds Bank sign on it. The Arena Central development was stalled by the recession, so demolition works behind were left unfinished until around 2015.

A close up of the former bank from December 2009. Built in the early 1930s, it has several giant Ionic columns. The building was empty / vacant and would remain so for years to come.

By 2013 they were opening up the Municipal Bank to arts venues. In June 2013 it was used by the Universe of Sound. Free, fun, interactive orchestra experience. Playing The Planets. I never did go inside at this point, and would go in until Birmingham's Hidden Spaces opened it up in 2015.

The Library of Birmingham first opened in September 2013 when I got this view from the Discovery Terrace at the Library of Birmingham.  Would be a couple of years before Arena Central started to come to life again.

In April 2016 it was being used by the International Dance Festival Birmingham as the Dance Hub from April to May 2016. This view as usual from the Discovery Terrace at the Library of Birmingham. Behind construction of Holiday Inn Express  (the TETRIS building) was well underway and HSBC UK to the left had just started too.

By 2017 the Westside Metro extension had started and that side of Broad Street was closed. This view of the former Municipal Bank from the Discovery Terrace at the Library of Birmingham during November 2017.

Scaffolding going up the former Municipal Bank during March 2019 as seen from theDiscovery Terrace at the Library of Birmingham. By the summer it was completely wrapped as work started to turn it into a venue for the University of Birmingham.

The visit to the Birmingham Municipal Bank as hosted by Birmingham's Hidden Spaces was on the 12th September 2015 during Birmingham Heritage Week.

Seen on the ceiling of the main banking hall: "Thrift Radiates Happiness" and "Saving is the Mother of Riches".

A pair of windows with the Birmingham Forward coat of arms. Left:  Commerce & Integrity. Right: Labour & Perseverance.

Another pair of windows with the Birmingham Forward coat of arms. Left: Banking & Finance. Right: Industry & Progress.

A side room. Probably where customers would hand over their valuables to go into the vaulted slots on the floor below.

A desk in the basement. Not entirely sure of it's use though. Although it wasn't far from the vault.

A look around the vault. Customers valuables would be locked away in these small lockers.

At the top of one side it reads: "Prudent People Seek a Safe Place Where to Lodge Their Securities".

The thick steel door to the vault. Normally it would be locked. Probably with a wheel and a code only the banker who knew how to open the vault. You don't want to get locked in there!

Period 1930s lights seen on the banking floor.

Revolving doors. The main entrance from Broad Street. Normally you don't see this as the thick doors in front of them are closed.

Will be interesting to see what the University of Birmingham does with the building, and if members of the public will have access to all areas, including the vault.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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60 passion points
History & heritage
22 Aug 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Aston Hall Civil War Siege 1643 - Birmingham Heritage Week (September 2017)

The build up to the next Birmingham Heritage Week (in September 2019) continues with a look back at an event at Aston Hall during September 2017. A recreation of the Civil War Siege of 1643. Sir Thomas Holte awaited the arrival of Royalist troops. Would the hall fall? Nearby Birmingham was on Parliaments side. At Easter 1643 was the Battle of Camp Hill with Prince Rupert.

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Aston Hall Civil War Siege 1643 - Birmingham Heritage Week (September 2017)





The build up to the next Birmingham Heritage Week (in September 2019) continues with a look back at an event at Aston Hall during September 2017. A recreation of the Civil War Siege of 1643. Sir Thomas Holte awaited the arrival of Royalist troops. Would the hall fall? Nearby Birmingham was on Parliaments side. At Easter 1643 was the Battle of Camp Hill with Prince Rupert.


On Saturday 16th September 2017 I went to an event at Aston Hall, booking online for £8.00. The Civil War Siege of Aston Hall in 1643 (the web link from 2 years ago still works). For my full album on Flickr follow this link Aston Hall Civil War Siege.

Can the Hall hold or will it fall? See soldiers arrive to defend the Hall, and experience the story of the siege. Help the servants and soldiers as they prepare for battle, fortifying the Hall and learning to fight.

In the 1640s the country was at war with itself, King against Parliament, and in 1643 the tides of war brought battle to Aston Hall.

Can the Hall hold? Come early to follow events as they unfold!

The above text was from the Birmingham museums website for the Aston Hall (the first link above).

Inside The Great Hall at Aston Hall. Sir Thomas Holte is about to go outside to confront the soldiers that are turning up on his doorstep.

Sir Thomas Holte and his advisor's are now outside, as the soldiers match up to confront him.

Royalist troops in red match up to the hall.

They confront Sir Thomas Holte.

A prisoner is held captive. Is he a spy? Is he on Parliaments side?

After the man was taken away for questionning, one of Sir Thomas's men signs a document.

What next for Aston Hall, has it fallen to the Royalists?

A short time later, servants at Aston Hall were given rifle practice by the Royalist soldiers.

Bang! As the servants fire their rifles.

After target practice had ended, had the servants joined the Royalist army to fight Parliament?

For Birmingham Heritage Week in September 2019, Aston Hall has the following events on:

Meet Sir Thomas Holte Tour on the 11th September 2019.

A Servant’s Life Guided Tour on the 12th September 2019.

Bookings for the above muse be made on their website.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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