History in the making; Birmingham Post opens up the doors of history

The Birmingham Post has reported, albeit later than my own post History in the Making, on the exciting development plans for Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The Post Article by Terry Grimley, Opening up the doors of history, reports on BMAG gaining £107,000 funding in the first stage of it's £7.9 million plan for galleries to show the history of Birmingham.

As my earlier post revealed and Grimley explains, this is part of larger plans for the museum and art gallery which could see new public areas created in six courtyards enclosed within the Council House Extension.

The first to be developed would provide a new sculpture court. This would take the place of the staircase which greets visitors at the end of the bridge gallery linking the original 1880s Museum & Art Gallery with the extension completed just before the First World War.

The plans are part of a 20 year strategy which has been developed with John Miller & Partners and aims to improve the flow of people round the site and improve the engagement of the museums diverse collections with the public. The £7.9 million plan on the Birmingham History Galleries alone will cover 1,000 square metres and incorporate approximately 2,000 items. The budget shows the significance of this first stage and comparable with the Victoria and Albert Museum spending £32 million itself seven years ago redisplaying it's entire British galleries.

“We spent quite a bit of time thinking about the significant aspirations we should have for this museum, in terms of physical changes and how we might be able to use spaces better,” says Rita McLean, head of museums.

“We have been working with John Miller & Partners, who have previously worked at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, Tate Britain and the National Portrait Gallery.

“They are interesting architects and are used to working in historic environments, but with a contemporary approach. There were two fundamental principles – making it easier for people to get in and then easier to find their way round.”

Importantly there are plans to add several new lifts, with the current Museum and Art Gallery surprisingly only have one passenger lift. One of these is already under construction serving the Egyptian gallery currently a dead-end on the second floor. Another is planned to link the Water Hall with the Indian sculpture gallery and Edwardian Tea Room immediately above.


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