Best Party in 130 years planned for Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery's Anniversary!

On Saturday 28th November, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is celebrating a landmark 130thBirthday Party for the people of Birmingham, with the Lord Mayor and ‘Queen Victoria’ as special guests, plus live music, birthday cake and party games.  It’s also the place to unwrap some of the world’s greatest treasures.

 “Not many people realise that Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery was built by and for the city’s working people”, explains Curator Rebecca Bridgman, who has been researching the 130 year history of the museum.  “Or that the museum’s collections belong to the people of Birmingham – Birmingham Museums Trust is simply a guardian.  The museum first opened in 1885 on a Saturday, so that the city’s working people could be the first to view its collections; it was also one of the first museums in the UK to open on a Sunday, and a staggering 70 million people have benefitted from free admission since the museum first opened.  So, on the museum’s founding day – 28 November – we’re inviting local people to celebrate with us, and come ‘home’ to rediscover their heirlooms – breath-taking works at the cutting-edge of art and design, ancient artefacts of global importance.” 

The 130thBirthday Party takes place on Saturday 28 November between 11am – 4pm at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, with fun for all of the family including live entertainment, a chance to dress in historic costume and have photographs taken, or to make Birthday Badges, sign the Giant Birthday Card, and enjoy bake sale treats, a raffle, and special family and adult anniversary tours revealing the museum’s secrets.  The 130thperson through the doors will also win the prize of a 12 months’ membership – a free pass to all nine Birmingham Museums, including Thinktank and special exhibitions.

At 1pm, the Lord Mayor of Birmingham Councillor Raymond Hassall will be cutting the birthday cake, accompanied by special historic guests ‘Queen Victoria’ played by Dr Ellen McAdam, Director of Birmingham Museums Trust which runs Birmingham Museums on behalf of Birmingham City Council, and ‘Prince Edward’, who originally opened the museum in 1885.

 “There is much to celebrate,” explains Dr Ellen McAdam.  “130 years ago, the founders of the museum had a grand vision: to create a space that showcased outstanding design and technology from across the ages and around the world, so that local people could be educated and inspired, giving the city a competitive edge.  We think they would be very proud – within the UK, Birmingham’s museums are outstanding, putting the city and its people on a world stage.”  Today, Birmingham Museums Trust looks after nine sites and over 800,000 objects, and welcomes over 1 million visitors each year including over 100,000 schoolchildren.  It is the largest independent museums trust in the UK, caring for the city’s great collections, including its Pre-Raphaelite art and the Staffordshire Hoard - that are the envy of museums worldwide.

“So, for the first time ever, we’re inviting local people to take a greater stake in their museums’ future, by launching our first ever annual appeal as part of the 130thanniversary celebrations,” says Ellen.  “We are determined to uphold the original founding principles for the next 130 years, to continue to open our doors for the working people of Birmingham for free, seven days a week, and to help shape the future of the city with world-beating collections that inspire creativity and learning.  But we need help.”  Local people can contribute to the annual appeal by donating online from as little as £1, in person at the 130thBirthday Party, or by buying the special 130thBirthday Bear in the shop, with proceeds going towards a range of activity, from specialist conservation and research, to learning programmes led by museum experts for schoolchildren and adult learners. “The industrialists who first built the museum would consider it a very good investment, I think!” adds Ellen.

Other 130thAnniversary festivities include a late night opening at the museum’s Edwardian Tearooms on Friday 27 November between 5 – 9pm where guests can raise a glass to the accompaniment of singer songwriter Esther Turner, once a city busker and now, at just 19 years of age, on tour with stars like Katy Perry.  There’s also a special exhibition tracing the milestones of the museum’s 130 year history and a peek into what’s in store for the next 130 years at Birmingham Museums.

For more details, call 0121 348 8038 or visit  More information about donating to the annual appeal can be found at the museum’s Just Giving website at  Donations can also be made by texting ‘BDAY01 £3’ to 70070, or by sending a cheque made payable to Birmingham Museums Trust.


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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 and Art Gallery, Blakesley Hall, Museum Collections Centre, Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, Sarehole Mill, Soho House, Thinktank and Weoley Castle.

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. It supports a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2015 and 2018, Arts Council England plans to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

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