Millennibrum: Unlock the Secrets of City's Past

By Banks, Martin | Birmingham Evening Mail (England), April 4, 2000 | Go to article overview

Millennibrum: Unlock the Secrets of City's Past


Banks, Martin, Birmingham Evening Mail (England)


THE wide-ranging collections cared for by Birmingham Museums service are a key to unlocking the city's history.

Objects from the Human History and Art departments provide clues about Birmingham, past and present, and the people who have shaped it.

Together, they represent every aspect of life in the city: from the types of work people did to the conditions in which they lived.

History curator, Victoria Emmanuel, says: 'Birmingham was known as the 'city of a thousand trades' and, although we cannot claim to represent every single trade, many are featured in great depth with some very fine examples including the button and papier mache collections.'

Collections of silver and allied metals in the Art Department reveal Birmingham's place as one of the great centres of metalwork manufacturing in Europe.

The Museum service also holds large collections of everyday objects relating to the lives of ordinary people as well as the possessions of better known individuals, particularly Matthew Boulton and Joseph Chamberlain.

People's memories and experiences are captured in the City Sound Archive with topics including life on the canals, the first and second world wars, rural Birmingham and Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany.

THE PRE-RAPHAELITES

BIRMINGHAM Museum and Art Gallery houses one of the world's most outstanding collections of pre-Raphaelite art.

In 1848, seven young artists, aged 19 to 23, formed the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. They were reacting against the lofty artistic standards which had governed the last 400 years.

They sought inspiration in early Italian art like Raphael and his predecessorts - hence the name, pre-Raphaelite.

They endeavoured to depict their subjects naturally and with honesty and were lucky to have the support of the one of Victorian England's most renowed art writers and critics, John Ruskin.

Linda McDermott, an officer with the Millennibrum project, says: 'A visit will reveal some of the finest examples of this great English art movement, including a hauntingly accurate portrait of one of the brotherhood's most romantic figures, Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

'Rossetti is seen as the leader of the pre-Raphaelite movement, known for his exceptional energy, drive and sometimes volatile personality.'

Edward Burne-Jones was born in 1833 on Bennetts Hilll, off New Street in Birmingham.

His spectacular work, 'The Star of Bethlehem,' depicting the three kings travelling to Jesus' birthplace, was especially commissioned for the opening of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in 1887.

The painting is so large that it was not completed until 1890.

'These are just a few of BM and AG's many pre-Raphaelite treasures which every year attract fascinated visitors from all over the world,' says Linda.

SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY

YOU may be surprised to learn that Birmingham has one of the world's best collections of works by and about William Shakespeare.

The Birmingham Shakespeare Library was founded in 1864 by members of the local Shakespeare Club during celebrations to mark the quarter centenary of Shakespeare's birth. …

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