The refurbishment of the exhibition gallery at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham begins this autumn.

The refit of the Lady Barber Gallery, the University’s only Grade-1 listed building, marks the first stage of a two-part scheme funding by the university totalling £10m.

It will include the installation of new walls, floors, glass doors, and new lighting, as well as a new air-handling system.

The Lady Barber Gallery, along with the four principal collection galleries, print bays and coin gallery, will close on 2 October 2023 and remain shut for five months to allow for the improvement works.

The Barber’s red collection gallery – currently the venue for the temporary exhibition ‘Mastering the Market: Dutch and Flemish Paintings from Woburn Abbey’ will close to the public earlier, on Sunday 24 September, the planned end-date of the show.

The Barber’s fine art collection – owned by the Henry Barber Trust – will be stored during the refurbishment, while agreed loans of masterpieces from the collection to exhibitions across the UK and Europe will be honoured.

The remainder of the building’s public spaces – including the reception and shop, fine art library, lecture theatre, teaching spaces, art history department and offices – will stay open from Monday to Friday, but close at weekends. The Barber Concert Hall will also remain closed.

The galleries are due to reopen in March 2024 with a twelve-month programme that features major temporary loan exhibitions and some changes to collection displays.

The work will be followed by The Barber Institute’s building closing to the public for seven months in February 2025, reopening in late autumn 2025.

Works will include the creation of a new, public, level-access entrance.

The Director of the Barber Institute, Professor Jennifer Powell said the works will allow it to welcome more visitors with mobility aids, prams or buggies, and other additional access needs, directly into the building’s reception space.
“This building repair work will also enable us to stage live music in the concert hall again, bringing art and music back together at the core of our building, which was key to the vision of our founder, Lady Barber.”

The University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Adam Tickell, added: “This refurbishment programme demonstrates our commitment to the Barber as a crucial centre of research and learning in the arts, as well as a public gallery that is much loved by art- and music-lovers in Birmingham, the UK and around the world.”

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