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Collection Summary

Collection Title
Fine Art Collection
The Fine Art collections include outstanding examples throughout the spectrum of European painting from the 14th.C. to the present day, and of British painting from the 17th.C. to the present day. Particular strengths lie in Baroque painting, Pre-Raphaelite painting and the Birmingham school.

The sculpture collection spans the 14th.C. to the present day, and includes important Baroque sculpture, work from the Charles Handley-Read collection, and a significant group of sculptures by Epstein.

The collection of British watercolours and drawings is particularly strong in the late 18th. and early 19th.C., with large holdings of work by David Cox, the Birmingham School, the Pre-Raphaelites and Burne-Jones (including 300 drawings by Rossetti and over 100 Morris stained-glass cartoons). European holdings are small, but include drawings by da Cortona (jointly with the Barber Institute), Dore and Picasso.

The prints collection includes good holdings of Japanese prints, 18th.C. mezzotints, prints after Turner and material from the 1960s and 1970s including the Michael Rothenstein collection presented in 1992.

The 20th. century collection is modest in scale, though now growing. It includes choice pieces by Moore, Hepworth, Bacon and many others.

The Museum and Art Gallery has also been closely involved in the development and curation of the City's Public Art collection, which includes works by Anthony Gormley, Dhruva Mistry, Ron Haselden, Raymond Mason, Tess Jaray and many others. Public art is seen as playing a central role in bringing art to a wider public and in the re-vitalisation of the City Centre.
The collection of European 17th. and 18th.C. painting and sculpture was developed mainly during the 1960s and 1970s, though work continues to be added Birmingham is perhaps best known for its large and comprehensive holdings of Pre-Raphaelite paintings, drawings and watercolours. The collections of early British watercolours and drawings are amongst the finest in the UK, and include work by all the main figures. The J.Leslie Wright Bequest of 1953 was an important moment in the development of the collections. The Renaissance collection is small, but includes choice works from both Italy and northern Europe. The sculpture collection spans the period from the 14th. century to the present day, and includes a substantial group from the Charles Handley-Read Collection, and a group of sculptures by Epstein. European prints and drawings include items by Dore, da Cortona and Picasso. The public art collection is part of the Museum's collection, and includes work by a wide range of artists in a variety of media. The prints collection includes Japanese Prints, 18th. century mezzotints, prints after Turner, and a wide range of material from the 1960s on, including the Michael Rothenstein Collection. The growing 20th. century collection includes major items by Moore, Hepworth, Bacon and many others.
Date range of collection
01/01/1565 -
Accumulation Dates
Suggested Audience
Not Specific
Associated Places
Associated Times

Location Details

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
Chamberlain Square Birmingham West Midlands B3 3DH United Kingdom
Open Map
0121 303 2834
0121 303 1394 
Visiting Information
Free Admission (Entrance fee for some exhibitions), lift available. Monday-Thursday 10.00am - 5.00pm Friday 10.30am - 5.00pm Sat 10.00am - 5.00pm Sunday 12.30pm - 5.00pm
Building Information
The original building by Yeoville Thomason is purpose built and dates from 1885. New galleries, linked by bridge to the original structure, were added over the years following the First World War. The Gas Hall exhibition gallery, converted from the old Municipal Gas Company's payments hall in the same building, was added in 1993. The Water Hall gallery for modern art, former Council offices, was added in 2001.
Collections Overview
Birmingham is the largest non-national museum service in England and Wales, and the scale and significance of its collections reflect this fact. They cover most aspects of human and natural history, and most of the collections have been Designated. The collections recorded here include those from the former Museum of Science and Industry. This museum is now closed. Some of the principal exhibits are now shown at the Thinktank museum and science centre which opened in 2002, but all the collections are still owned by Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery.
Display Overview
The collections are displayed in extensive purpose-built surroundings, usually by subject. Over the last twenty years there has been a near-continuous programme of display renewal and replacement, though some still await attention. Some Science and Industry collections are shown at Thinktank.
Star Objects
The Pre-Raphaelite collection, including ‘The Last of England’ by Ford Madox Brown. Canaletto's views of Warwick Castle. ‘The Madonna and Child enthroned with Saints’, painted in the new oil technique by Bellini in Venice in 1505. An elaborately bandaged Egyptian mummy from the third century. The 2.3-metre Sultanganj Buddha, which has been on display in Birmingham Museum since 1867. The Wonderwall - a selection of the museum’s most popular objects including a 1940s bomb and a 1970s Space Hopper. The Pinto Collection of over 7000 wooden objects. Ceramics by Wedgwood, the Worcester porcelain factory, William De Morgan, the Martin Brothers and the Ruskin Pottery.
For details of other collections held at the same location: See the location record

Additional Collection Information

Related Publications
Management Information (Type)
Collection Owner(s)
Collection Creator(s)
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Associated Collection(s)

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