A Victorian building, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is notable primarily for its collection of Pre-Raphaelite works, which is the largest public Pre-Raphaelite collection in the entire world. Other collections cover a wide variety of media, from fine art to ceramics to jewellery. The domed Round Room is home to some of the major collections, and is an architectural spectacle in and of itself. Best of all, entry to the museum is free, so the gallery certainly offers value for money.
Chamberlain Square, Birmingham, United Kingdom +44 (0) 121 348 8032
Ikon is one of Europe’s foremost contemporary galleries. Compared to Birmingham Museum and Art gallery, it’s a more individual affair, recognised as being progressive and modern. The gallery also houses Birmingham’s only specialist art bookshop, stocking books, stationery, and prints. All profits from the shop support the gallery’s artistic and educational charity programmes. With temporary exhibitions spread across two floors, Ikon lends itself well to repeat visits.
1 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace, Birmingham, United Kingdom, +44 (0) 121 248 0708
From the modern to the Old Masters, Barber Institute of Fine Arts has a fantastic collection of classic works. A concert hall as well as an art gallery, it is housed on the campus of the University of Birmingham, in a wonderful 1939 art deco building. With multiple collections, from impressionism to one of the world’s largest coin collections, there is plenty to see here. The gallery is chock-full of famous works by Van Gogh, Monet, Rembrandt, et al, and is one of the most internationally significant museums in the UK.
University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom, +44 (0) 121 414 7333
Eastside Projects offers a new way to look at art: straight from the artists themselves. A free public gallery, created and organised by artists, the gallery commissions works to demonstrate the ways in which art gives value to society. Here, workspace and exhibition are seamlessly integrated, and the variety of exhibitions gives Eastside Projects a vibrant, ever-changing space. The philosophy of this place is that exhibit is a verb, not just a noun.
Eastside Projects, 86 Heath Mill Lane, Birmingham, United Kingdom, +44 (0) 121 771 1778
The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Gallery holds the not-inconsequential honour of being the second-oldest independent art gallery in the UK. The Society is an artist-led charity, and it runs its own gallery space. The programme for the RBSA gallery includes an open submissions section, whilst the ground floor contains space for solo shows. In 2014, the RBSA celebrates the 200-year anniversary of the first exhibition staged by the Birmingham Academy of Arts, the RSBA’s forerunner. With that many years of experience, the quality of this museum is as good as you could possibly expect.
4 Brook St, Birmingham, United Kingdom, +44 (0) 121 236 4353