An enchanting Edwardian Christmas at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

If Christmas wasn’t already sufficiently magical, this year Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is taking inspiration from E. R. Hughes’ Night With Her Train of Stars, the centrepiece of its Enchanted Dreams exhibition, to give the whole building an enchanted Edwardian Christmas!

Decorations on the many trees around the museum will follow the wonderfully rich colour scheme of the painting, with blues, purples and golds creating the twilight-esque feel and excitement of Christmas Eve which will leave visitors guessing at what mythical or magical creature might be around the next corner, from fairies to Father Christmas! 

“The artworks in the Enchanted Dreams exhibition are all from the turn of the 20th century, so we’re turning back the clock throughout Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery to recreate what Christmas would have been like when the paint was barely dry on these magical masterpieces,” comments Gurminder Kenth, Museum Manager at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. “The Edwardian period marked a bit of a departure from the more rigid Victorian era, Christmas became very much focused around the family.  Dreams and fantasy were part of a more relaxed culture, which is why the works of E. R. Hughes were so popular – so we will be bringing the magic of his most famous works to life in our galleries.”

Indeed, within the Enchanted Dreams exhibition itself, young visitors can explore being a fairy for themselves, with dressing up costumes, story books and fun activities in the popular family-friendly Fairy Glen. 

Father Christmas – who himself experienced a renaissance in 1902 with the publication of ‘The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus’ by L. Frank Baum, author of the Wizard Of Oz stories – will be setting up his grotto in the new Mini Museum, which opened at the end of October. This toddler-friendly space has lots to occupy children while they wait to see Santa, including a story-telling area, a mini puppet theatre where children can create their own shows and other interactive activities linked to exhibits elsewhere in the museum, such as a three dimensional jigsaw of an Egyptian mummy’s sarcophagus, as well as comfortable soft seating areas. It is conveniently located next to the Edwardian Tearooms, which will be serving special three course festive lunches as part of its seasonal menu. Santa will be in residence every weekend in December (5-6, 12-13 and 19-20) from 10.30am-12.30pm and 1.30pm–4.30pm. Admission to Santa’s Grotto is £3.50 per child.

Throughout December visitors will be able to shop for delightful vintage gift ideas, including books, homeware, jewellery and Christmas decorations, including a specially-commissioned fairy for the top of the tree inspired by ‘Night’ in Night with Her Train of Stars.

“Christmas as we know it came of age in the 1900s but above all it was a family celebration when everyone came together for feasting, gift-giving and merriment. So this year, we’re also putting the family at the heart of our yuletide celebrations, with Edwardian style decorations and trees, entertaining events, and winter warmers in the Edwardian Tearooms,” says Gurminder Kenth.

The Edwardian Christmas at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is one event within a spectacular season of festive celebrations taking place across Birmingham Museums’ nine sites. Visitors can step back into yuletides of years ago, with Blakesley Hall’s Tudor Christmas, Aston Hall’s Jacobean Christmas and Soho House’s Georgian Christmas, or step into the future at Thinktank’s Christmas in Space.

Entrance to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is free, but there may be an additional charge for some special activities or exhibitions. Enchanted Dreams with its magical Fairy Glen for children runs at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery until 21 February 2016. Admission to Enchanted Dreams: The Pre-Raphaelite Art of E.R. Hughes is free for children under 16, £7 adults, and £6 concessions. The Museum & Art Gallery is open Monday–Sunday 10am–5pm, except Fridays 10.30am–5pm, and is closed 24–26 December.

For more details, call 0121 348 8038 or visit Online booking for special events and exhibitions is also available.


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Notes to Editors

Birmingham Museums Trust is an independent charity that manages the city’s museum collection and venues on behalf of Birmingham City Council. It uses the collection of around 800,000 objects to provide a wide range of arts, cultural and historical experiences, events and activities that deliver accessible learning, creativity and enjoyment for citizens and visitors to the city. Most areas of the collection are designated as being of national importance, including the finest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art in the world. Attracting over 1 million visits a year, the Trust’s venues include Aston Hall, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Blakesley Hall, Museum Collections Centre, Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, Sarehole Mill, Soho House, Thinktank and Weoley Castle.

For further media information or photographs, please contact:

Nicola Bexon or Jay Commins

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About Us

Birmingham Museums has extraordinary venues that provide a fascinating glimpse into Birmingham's rich and vibrant past and showcase world class museum collections. Sites include:Birmingham Museum & Art GalleryThinktank, Birmingham's Science MuseumAston HallBlakesley HallMuseum of the Jewellery QuarterSarehole MillSoho HouseWeoley CastleMuseums Collections Centre