Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (BMAG) will remain closed throughout 2021 while essential electrical upgrade work on Birmingham’s Council House complex takes place.

While the building is closed, Birmingham Museums Trust will continue to share items and stories from the city’s collections, both online and in the community.

BMAG is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but plans for reopening in time for the 2022 Commonwealth Games are already underway. Next year also marks the 160th anniversary of the birth of Birmingham’s collection. In celebration, Birmingham Museum’s will re-invigorate the collection, re-interpreting it for the 21st century.

The reopening will be launched with a transformation of BMAG’s iconic Round Room. A radical new display of the gallery will reflect the people of 21st century Birmingham. In a sweeping change from the current paintings of landscapes, historic subjects and dignitaries from the past, the new We Are Birmingham display will present a vibrant celebration of the city that Birmingham has become. It will draw on new artworks as well as historic items from Birmingham’s collections.

Next year will also herald a programme of new exhibitions, as well as celebrations of treasures such as the Staffordshire Hoard, world-famous Pre-Raphaelites and more recent items from Collecting Birmingham, such as the Koh-i-Noor curry house booth.

Sara Wajid and Zak Mensah, Joint-CEO of Birmingham Museums Trust, said: “We had very much hoped that we would be able to reopen BMAG to visitors before this essential work started, but sadly, due to the latest lockdown, this won’t be possible.

“We understand just how disappointing this will be for many people who would've been looking forward to visiting BMAG once lockdown restrictions are lifted. 

“However, during our closure we will continue to find ways to make Birmingham’s collections available to as many people as possible. Understanding our history and our national identity is now more relevant than ever, and so we look forward to staying connected with all of our audiences across Birmingham and the West Midlands as we bring them with us on our journey towards 2022.

“We also feel that this is an ideal time for us to allow BMAG to embrace the city that Birmingham is now, as well as the city it was when the Birmingham collection was founded.”

Ways in which Birmingham Museums will stay connected with audiences over the coming year will include taking world-renowned artworks and items from the collections into schools, inviting Birmingham citizens to co-produce new displays for when the museum reopens, sharing the city’s collection through digital platforms and presenting a series of outdoor exhibitions.

Birmingham Museums Trust is also planning to reopen its award-winning science museum, Thinktank, and its historic properties across the city to visitors later this year, once government guidelines allow. Visitors will be able to enjoy new collection displays at both Thinktank and Aston Hall later this year.

Birmingham City Council own the buildings which currently house BMAG and the Council House. The electrical upgrade of the complex is an extensive and essential programme of work which is needed to future-proof the building, making it safe for staff and visitors and also safeguarding Birmingham’s collections for generations to come.

The proposed work is due to commence in June. However, before contractors can start, over 2,150 items from Birmingham’s collections will need to be removed, with a further 33,000 items then being moved into safe storage as work progresses. The complete programme of work will be phased, with the first phase completed in early 2022.