It’s four years since the wonderful exhibition ‘Birmingham, its people, its history’ was opened at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BM&AG) and it’s still there and free (though donations are always welcome!) for anyone to go and visit. Charting the history of the city from earliest times to the current day, the gallery contains a wealth of objects, images, information and interactive devices which really bring the history of Birmingham to life. Taking up half of the top floor, where the oldies among us might remember seeing the ‘dinosaur’, the gallery is fresh and vibrant and an asset to anyone researching local history.
In the gallery you will find a scale model village of Birmingham in medieval times. Look behind you and you’ll see a map showing how the city’s population has grown and how the boundaries have expanded. There is a recreation of Freeth’s coffee shop where you can hear some of the ballads that he penned. The dynamic role played by locals in the protest against slavery is well covered, along with other political activism which defined Birmingham in the early nineteenth century.
Beyond the nineteenth century the gallery includes a hugely informative and poignant section on war-time Brum and you can have a sit down and listen to real stories, related by real locals, remembering the good times and the bad. Through the twentieth century you should find things that stir your own memories. And there’s a great interactive table that has images of Birmingham provided by BrumPics.
Currently (2016) some of the items are not on display, including the iconic HP sign. This is because of the building works going on outside the building, which have been causing vibrations, putting some displays at risk. But the Birmingham History Galleries are definitely worth a visit.