The most popular free attraction in Birmingham city centre is reopening its doors after being mothballed for more than six months.
The Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (BMAG) has been closed since March but is set to welcome back pre-booked visitors keen to see a new display from city artist Cold War Steve (see video below).
A survey published in 2018 by VisitEngland showed that BMAG was the city’s second most popular free attraction with more than 11,000 visitors per week in 2017.
Originally opened 135 years ago in 1885, its annual total of 602,000 visitors was second only to the 1.13 million who had been to MAC Birmingham – almost 22,000 per week.
A spokesperson for BMAG said: “We will follow the guidelines and adjust our plans as needed if the details of the local lockdown change, but based on the latest restrictions we are still able to reopen.
“Visitors must pre-book free timed tickets (no per than six per booking) and follow the one-way route through the museum, entering via the Gas Hall entrance on Edmund Street.
“We have introduced a range of measures to ensure visitors have a safe and enjoyable experience.
“Only the Level 2 galleries will reopen, including the chance to see art spanning eight centuries, from Renaissance masterpieces through to Pre-Raphaelite favourites and stunning works by major modern British artists.
“The Gas Hall will open for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition from Saturday 17 October.”
- The famous Edwardian Tearooms are reopening where you should wait to be seated for table service only.
- Sandwiches and hot and cold drinks will also be available for takeaway.
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New times and guidelines for BMAG
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery will be open from 10am to 5pm, Wednesday to Sunday.
The only way in will be through Edmund Street’s Gas Hall entrance.
Follow the one-way system and then leave via the Chamberlain Square doors around the corner.
Guests must prebook because capacity has been reduced to meet social distancing guidelines.
Although entry is free, there will be an opportunity to make a donation.
Sections no accessible on Level 3 include ceramics, jewellery, metalworks, Anciant Egypt, Ancient Near East, Ancient Greece, Rome and Cyprus and Birmingham History – but there is a BMAG virtual tour
Level 2 galleries that will be open include the Staffordshire Hoard, Birmingham People & Places, Edward Burne-Jones and the Pre-Raphaelites.
Running April 18, 2021, the attractions in Gallery 23 will include three works in a new display by Cold War Steve, including Bennies Babbies which features Black Sabbath on top of the Rotunda.
Artist Christopher Spencer is a former probation officer from Birmingham.
He began making photomontage art on the bus to work and now regularly posts on Twitter – you can see him talking about his fears of censorship in the video here.
- Do not enter if… you are feeling unwell, are showing any symptoms of Covid-19 or in the last 14 days have had contact with anyone who has had the virus.
- Cover your face when inside the building and use hand sanitiser open entering and regularly during your visit.
- Keep a safe distance from all others.
- While you may be asked for your name and booking number do not pass your phone or printed tickets to members of staff.
- Only one bubble/family group will be permitted to use each toilet facility at any one time.
- Always follow the one-way system.
- Contactless payment preferred and all transactions will be with cards only.
- Lockers are not available.
Reopening in context
Plans to reopen BMAG were announced on September 9 – almost three weeks after the successful reopening of the Ikon Gallery in Brindleyplace on August 20.
The news came even though MAC Birmingham had already announced its closure for the year and had been putting staff at risk of redundancy, while Birmingham Hippodrome had previously axed its giant Christmas panto with Jason Donovan
The city has also now seen the cancellation of the Birmingham German Market as well as Ice Skate Birmingham’s Ice Rink and Big Wheel in Centenary Square.
And following last Friday night’s announcement that the new James Bond movie No Time To Die was being put back another five months to next April, Cineworld announced it was closing all of its cinemas from this week.