Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to close for three years for redevelopment

Rob Picheta, 08.08.2018
Separate site in East Birmingham will host collections storage and community spaces
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery will close for three years to undergo redevelopment, with a new museum store to house its collections also being built.

The museum will shut its doors in late 2019 and is aiming to reopen some galleries in 2022, when Birmingham hosts the Commonwealth Games.

Development plans include the creation of a children’s museum, a community display area and street-level restaurant, and the improvement of the museum’s accessibility.

The work was necessary due to the Grade II building’s outdated electrical wiring, plumbing, lighting and temperature controls, which Birmingham City Council said needed “essential, major modernisation”.

Plans are being drawn up to display some of the museum’s exhibits at other sites run by Birmingham Museums Trust, as well as other locations across the city, but details are yet to be announced.

A separate site at Yardley in east Birmingham will also be built, which will include an object storage facility for the museum. The museum’s collection will be moved from its current 1.5 hectare facility in north Birmingham.

Tours of the new storage facility, school visits and a programme of live performances have been promised as part of the plans, which will also see the creation of community spaces and shops.

Ellen McAdam, the director of Birmingham Museums Trust, said of the Yardley site: “We are committed to rethinking the way we use this great collection for the benefit of this city’s young, super-diverse citizens.

“Working with residents in the local area, we are determined to transform the site into an ambitious centre which pushes boundaries, and brings together expertise from across the city to inspire and open up opportunities for the people of Birmingham.” 

She added: “We know of no other cultural facility of comparable ambition, scope or scale in the UK or internationally, and this is a very exciting time as our plans gather pace.”

The Yardley venue, on the site of a disused shopping centre, will also feature a new headquarters for Birmingham Museums Trust, to which its curatorial, conservation and back office staff will relocate.

The trust will launch a fundraising campaign to finance the two concurrent developments.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is the flagship site of Birmingham Museums Trust, receiving over 700,000 visitors annually.