Birmingham Museums Trust, which runs Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and eight other sites across the city, has spent the past six months reliant on public donations and emergency fundraising efforts to survive.
After a long, anxious wait it will soon begin making up for lost time and start to recapture revenues lost during a half year without admissions, retail and catering sales, event bookings or school activities.
Despite having been under severe pressure, the institution’s lockdown output was of staggering quality and range. Its online and social media engagement was always at the forefront of an untested, unprecedented digitisation movement brought on by government restrictions.
Community outreach, too, was a big part of its offer – with an innovative food delivery service just one of the ways it maintained a connection to the people of Birmingham.
“Our doors may be closed…but we are still there for our visitors”
Visitors will be welcomed back to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery from Wednesday 7th October, with limited opening hours of 10am to 5pm between Wednesdays and Sundays. All tickets must be pre-booked, as has become the industry norm since the pandemic broke, but will remain free of charge. Masks, hand sanitiser and museum guidebooks can also be pre-ordered when booking.
Only the site’s Level 2 galleries will reopen initially, with Level 3 exhibitions remaining accessible online via the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery virtual tour. The Edwardian Tearooms will also be welcoming diners again, alongside the museum’s shop – both bringing vital commercial income back into the organisation.
“While we’ve adapted to reach people online during this time, we are over the moon to be able to welcome the people of Birmingham and beyond back to the museum,” says Gurminder Kenth, museum manager at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.
“Reopening is one of the first steps in recovering from what has been a very challenging six months. Thank you to everyone who has supported us during this time, including our major fundraising campaign. It was extremely heart-warming to see how much our museums mean to people, but there are still challenges ahead.
“We remain extremely grateful for donations and purchases which will all go a long way to helping us secure our long-term future beyond the pandemic.”
Programming for the remainder of 2020 will include the display of Cold War Steve’s vast Birmingham collage Benny’s Babbies, which launched online during lockdown. The Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition will also open in the venue’s Gas Hall on 17th October.