It is thanks to the municipal Gas department, a Devonian and two Cornishman that Birmingham’s world class Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG) was founded and built. Designed by Yeoville Thomason and opened in 1885 by the Prince of Wales, I found the building interior as beautiful as the artefacts it displayed.
Our journey began in the Round Room but it wasn’t long before I found myself in the Industrial Gallery – partly because of the contents but mostly because of the architecture. Isn’t it a glorious room.
The rather wonderful ironwork stairs and railings are the artwork of Hart, Son, Peard & Co architectural metalworkers based in London & Birmingham.
The gas lamps, known as ‘sun-light burners’, were made by Messrs. Strode and Company for the cost of £488, that equates to around £59,000 in 2017! Their original name is quite apt, as sun-light burners enabled the working class not just the middle classes to visit galleries year round. Prior to aritifical lighting the working class visits would have been limited to the summer months as only then would there have been sufficient natural light for them to visit after they finished work. The burners are no longer in working order but Olivia Bruton in her blogpost ‘A Lot of Hot Air‘ theorises that the internal part was winched down to ground level to enable them to be lit. She wasn’t exactly sure at the time of writing but had discovered a winching mechanism in the roof so is reasonably sure!
Adjacent to the Industrial Gallery was another lovely room, which is currently being used as a mini museum for children. There were rather a lot of children having fun here on the day we were visiting, and the noise which accompanied them meant we quickly walked through. I did however capture this shot of the roof.
The next room was one of the highlights of our gallery visit. I wonder if this room might be the clincher for Anabel and Jude for a Brum visit? I’d happily meet up with you both here, and I am sure Jo would join us if we can drag her away from the Algarve! Not only is the tea excellent and the cakes superb but the surroundings of these Tearooms are delightful. They are called the Edwardian Tearooms which I found a bit odd considering the Museum opened during Queen Victoria’s era and afternoon tea is a mid to late Victorian innovation but who am I to question!
What I can answer though (just in case you are wondering) is whether or not I took any photographs of the displays in the industrial gallery. I did! In fact we spent quite a bit of time in the upper galleries as it was mostly ceramics, and you know what I am like about tiles. I will share some of those later this week, but for now I shall leave you with a cup of tea and pondering as to whether we went . . . . .