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Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (BMAG) has reopened to the public today following nearly seven months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Visitors will get to see a number of new displays, including Cold War Steve’s two-metre-wide Birmingham collage, Benny’s Babbies. Launched digitally in April, the collage features some of the city's best-known and most well-regarded people.
Birmingham Museums commissioned Cold War Steve to produce work inspired by the Trust’s digital image database, which hosts thousands of out-of-copyright images from the city’s collection. Benny’s Babbies can be seen alongside Cold War Steve vs The PRB, where the artist places characters from the work of Pre-Raphaelite artists into unlikely scenes.
Also new for the reopening is Iranian-born artist & filmmaker Shirin Neshat's portrait of girls’ education activist Malala Yousafzai, which has never been on public display before. On loan from the National Portrait Gallery and commissioned with support from Outset Contemporary Art Fund, the striking image of Malala seated at a school desk is part of the Coming Home initiative, which sees portraits from the National Portrait Gallery’s collection travel to places across the UK with which they are closely associated.
The portrait will be accompanied by two works from Birmingham’s collection on related themes of home and identity by artists connected to the city: In The House Of My Father by Donald Rodney and Not Your Fantasy I by Farwa Moledina.
Other new works on display include Excerpt by Birmingham artist Mixed Milk. In this frenetic film, the artist uses photographs of the city’s collection of art and objects and re-sequences them to encourage the viewer to become aware of the intimate connections we all share.
There’s also the chance to revisit old favourites, including a world-renowned collection of Pre-Raphaelite works, art treasures ranging from Renaissance masterpieces to major modern British artworks, and another chance to see the Dressed To The Nines and Birmingham Revolutions exhibitions.
Timed tickets for entry must be pre-booked at www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/bmag with new opening times of Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm. The museum will be operating with a reduced capacity to accommodate social distancing. Only the Level Two galleries will be open, with a new one-way system in place.
Tickets are free but, if possible, visitors are asked to donate to help Birmingham Museums Trust secure its future during these uncertain times. Tickets are released regularly on a rolling basis up to a month in advance. BMAG-branded masks, hand sanitiser and a museum guidebook can also be pre-ordered when booking.
Gurminder Kenth, Museum Manager at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, said: “It feels brilliant to be opening our doors again and welcoming visitors back to the museum once more. This is the ideal time to explore BMAG and to experience new and familiar displays while we are quieter due to reduced capacity.
“With a pre-booked ticket, you’ll have the time and space to browse the galleries at your leisure and escape the news by immersing yourself in art and the peaceful surroundings of the museum. We can’t wait to welcome visitors back!”
Entry also includes access to the Edwardian Tearooms, with the opportunity to dine in or take away, and no need to book. Visitors can enjoy a quick pitstop for tea and cake, a hot meal, or choose something to take away. The museum’s shop will also be open, selling a range of gifts inspired by Birmingham and the city’s collection. Every purchase supports Birmingham Museums Trust as a charity to get through the Covid crisis.
BMAG has been awarded the official We’re Good To Go UK mark, to signal that government & industry guidelines are being followed. Visitors are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the full list of safety guidelines at www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/bmag/visit.
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