2020 is gearing up to be an exciting year at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, with Wildlife Photographer of the Year coming to the Gas Hall for a major show from May, and an exhibition that tells the story of one of Birmingham’s oldest manufacturing companies opening in January, along with much more.
Dressed to the Nines and Birmingham Revolutions
Until Friday 4 September 2020
These exhibitions, which launched late in 2019, explore two fascinating areas of Birmingham history. Birmingham Revolutions looks at Birmingham’s vibrant and varied history of protest and activism, and the role the city has played in some of the most important campaigns and movements in British history. Dressed to the Nines explores how fashion and dressing up for special occasions has changed since the 1850s, showcasing dazzling outfits and accessories from the city’s dress collection, and offering the chance for visitors to be part of the exhibitions themselves.
Webster and Horsfall: 300 years of Innovation
Thursday 30 January – Sunday 4 October 2020
This new Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (BMAG) exhibition celebrates 300 years of Birmingham firm Webster and Horsfall who were responsible for manufacturing the wire for the first successful transatlantic cable in 1866.
The free exhibition tells the story of the local family business, based in Hay Mills, which has been at the heart of steel wire and rope manufacturing in Birmingham since 1720. The history of the company is told through Webster and Horsfall archival material and a selection of Birmingham’s collection of watercolours by Arthur Lockwood.
Lockwood was renowned for his industrial watercolours of Birmingham and the Black Country. He documented the changing city through his work and depicted vivid scenes from local factories, including that of Webster and Horsfall.
Birmingham Museums acquired over 700 watercolours and sketches from the artist as part of the Lottery-funded Collecting Birmingham project. This is the first time his paintings will be on display at BMAG and will be a celebration of Lockwood’s work following his death in 2019.
Objects from Birmingham’s science and industry collection, and loans from Webster and Horsfall, will delve further into Birmingham’s industrial past. Visitors will also see examples of the transatlantic cable which revolutionised communication between the UK and the USA.
Webster and Horsfall products can be found as component parts of just about every item manufactured in Birmingham in the 18th and 19th centuries. From bike seats to paper clips, cables to steam engines, Webster and Horsfall is woven through the fabric of Birmingham’s manufacturing history.
Visit the exhibition to find out more about the company and the workers who have made it such a success in the city for 300 years.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Saturday 23 May – Sunday 6 September
Ticket details to be announced.
Stunning images will be unveiled as Wildlife Photographer of the Year arrives at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery from Saturday 23rd May 2020.
The world-renowned exhibition, on loan from the Natural History Museum in London, will feature exceptional images which capture fascinating animal behaviour, spectacular species and the breath-taking diversity of the natural world. Whilst inspiring curiosity and wonder, the images also remind us of the fragility of our planet and our responsibility to protect it.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year is the most prestigious photography event of its kind, providing a global platform that showcases the natural world’s most astonishing and challenging sights for over 50 years. Launching in 1965 and attracting 361 entries, today the competition receives over 48,000 entries from 100 countries, highlighting its enduring appeal. 100 award-winning images can be seen on display in this fascinating and eye-opening exhibition in Birmingham.
On display in the spectacular Gas Hall at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, the exhibition will also be accompanied by a display of pieces from Birmingham’s collection which explore our enduring fascination with animals.
There will also be an exciting programme of events and activities for both families and adults, making it a truly memorable experience with lots of opportunity to get involved, learn more and be inspired by the natural world.
Nritya: The Story of Indian Dance in the Black Country 1960 – 2000
From Friday 9 October
Nritya tells the largely unwritten and unrecorded story of Indian dance in the Black Country between 1960-2000 alongside its key professional development in Birmingham during this period.
The exhibition shares stories, photos, films and objects collected from some of the pioneering dancers, teachers and choreographers in the region, as well as items from the national archive of South Asian Diaspora Arts Archive, held at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. There will be a day of activities for all the family on Saturday 10 October which will bring the exhibition to life.
Nritya is curated by Jai Jashn Dance, an award winning non-profit voluntary organisation under the umbrella of Jaivant Patel Dance. Nritya is supported by Heritage Lottery Fund.
Edwardian Tearooms Lates
ETR Lates offer visitors the chance to explore the museum at night with themed events. Here’s what’s in store in 2020.
On Friday 14 February impress a loved one with a special Valentine Dinner. On Saturday 28 March put your glad rags on for dinner and live music with an exclusive chance to see the Dressed to the Nines exhibition in partnership with Hidden Spaces. Get creative and meet likeminded people at the Drink & Draw Singles Night on Saturday 25 April. Peruse unique crafts at the Spring Craft Market on Saturday 30 May. Birmingham Cocktail Weekend comes to the Edwardian Tearooms on Saturday 11 July. Enjoy a delicious dinner, live music, and an exclusive after-hours tour of the museum as part of Birmingham Heritage Week 2020 on Saturday 19 September. And the Edwardian Tearooms welcomes Silent Noize back for the popular silent discos on Saturday 21 and 28 November.
2020 event highlights
Mark International Women’s Day on Sunday 8 March with live performances inspired by the women’s rights movement and hear from local women’s organisations.
Armed Forces Day on Saturday 27 June offers the chance to celebrate our armed forces with a day of special activities.
With behind the scenes conservation tours and curator’s choice talks throughout the year, there’s plenty of opportunities to get inspired by Birmingham’s history and art displays.
As usual Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery will be hosting family friendly treats during the school holidays and celebrating Halloween and Christmas with a whole host of fun events. Father Christmas will be back again in the enchanting grotto in the heart of the museum and Christmas choirs will be bringing festive cheer to the museum.
Visit www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/whats-on to keep up to date with this year’s programme of exhibitions and events.
Please view video highlights here.