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Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (BMAG) is gearing up to welcome back visitors as it reopens its doors on Wednesday 7 October after one of the most significant closures in the museum’s history due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Opening from Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm, this will be the first chance for visitors to explore BMAG at their leisure in almost seven months. Capacity will be reduced to accommodate social distancing and timed tickets must be booked at www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/bmag to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.
Tickets will be free but, if possible, visitors will be asked to donate to help Birmingham Museums Trust secure its future during these very difficult financial times. Tickets will be released regularly on a rolling basis up to a month in advance. BMAG branded masks, hand sanitiser and museum guidebook can also be pre-ordered when booking.
Gurminder Kenth, Museum Manager at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, said: “Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery hasn’t been the same since our doors closed to visitors in March. While we’ve adapted to reach people online during this time, we are over the moon to be able to welcome the people of Birmingham and beyond back to the museum.
“The team have been working hard to put extra measures in place to ensure everyone can enjoy their visit. We have a really exciting programme coming up and while things may feel a little different, it’s the same familiar museum behind the doors, ready to greet you.”
To begin with 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 level 3 galleries can still be explored online via the BMAG virtual tour at www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/bmag/virtual-tour.
The Edwardian Tearooms will be welcoming diners back to eat in, whether they are looking for a quick pitstop for tea and cake or their favourite ETR dishes. Hot and cold drinks, sandwiches and cakes will also be available to takeaway. The museum’s shop will also be open with a range of gifts to take home.
BMAG’s exciting new Autumn and Winter programme includes the chance to see Cold War Steve’s huge celebratory Birmingham collage – Benny’s Babbies. Launched online during lockdown, the 2-metre-wide collage will finally be gracing the walls of the museum from 7 October, showcasing some of the city’s most notable people in the artist’s distinctive style. The display will also include the artist’s satirical take on Pre-Raphaelite works in Birmingham’s museum collection.
The Natural History Museum’s world-renowned Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition will be coming to the Gas Hall at BMAG from Saturday 17 October. In its fifty-sixth year, featuring exceptional images the exhibition will immerse visitors in the breath-taking diversity of the natural world. Tickets can be pre-booked separately from Thursday 17 September and more details will be announced soon.
There is also another chance to see innovative exhibitions Dressed to the Nines and Birmingham Revolutions. Dressed to the Nines showcases gems from Birmingham’s costume collection, including formal ball gowns and contemporary drag, exploring how fashion and dressing up for special occasions has changed since the 1850s. Birmingham Revolutions: Power to the People delves into the city’s vibrant and varied history of protest and activism and the role Birmingham has played in some of the most important campaigns and movements in British history.
Visitors will also be able to see an exhibition of paintings by renowned Birmingham artist Arthur Lockwood, which opened at the start of 2020, and celebrates 300 years of history for family owned firm Webster & Horsfall.
Safety will be the museum’s top priority and there will be new measures in place, including limiting capacity through the new ticket system, one-way routes around the galleries with entry via the Gas Hall entrance on Edmund Street, masks to be worn throughout visits, hand-sanitising stations throughout the building, and enhanced cleaning regimes. Visitors are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the full list of guidelines on the website before arrival.
When the country went into lockdown, Birmingham Museums Trust closed the doors to its nine sites, including BMAG. As an independent charity this means that 60% of the Trust’s income from admissions, sales in shops and cafes, public and corporate events, and school activities, was forced to stop. During the closure a successful fundraising campaign was set up to help, and donations and purchases in person or online will continue to secure the museum’s future throughout this uncertain time.
Gurminder Kenth continued: “Reopening BMAG is one of the first steps in recovering from what has been a very challenging six months. Thank you to everyone who has supported us during this time, including our major fundraising campaign. It was extremely heart-warming to see how much our museums mean to people, but there are still challenges ahead. We remain extremely grateful for donations and purchases which will all go a long way to helping us secure our long-term future beyond the pandemic.”
Timed tickets for Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery can be pre-booked now ahead of opening on Wednesday 7 October.
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