Arts Council accolade will bring top contemporary art to Birmingham

Birmingham Museums Trust is celebrating after being selected as one of only four venues around the UK to become Arts Council Collection National Partners, which will bring exciting contemporary arts exhibitions and £600,000 of funding to host them over the next three years.

The announcement made today (Tuesday 2 February ) will provide a huge boost for Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery’s (BMAG) international profile as a centre for modern art, as well as providing exhibitions for other venues operated by the Trust, including Thinktank at Millennium Point and several heritage properties around the city. 

Arts Council Collection has amassed an incredible collection of contemporary art over the last 70 years, and this announcement will see many pieces from its collection coming to Birmingham – a great coup for Birmingham Museums - where it will be on public display in our largest ever programme of modern art exhibitions,

comments Dr Ellen McAdam, Director.

What makes it so exciting is the Arts Council’s continuing engagement   with many of the great artists it has collected. The Waterhall has already grown a reputation for displaying pieces by new and emerging artists.  This will add works by some of the biggest names of the 20thand 21stcenturies to our exhibition programme, enabling us to showcase our own collections alongside the Arts Council’s contemporary art in the larger Gas Hall.  The partnership also provides funding to engage with new audiences around the city, so that these prestigious artworks can be seen by many more people.

The announcement was made following years of close work between Birmingham Museums and Arts Council England, which has included BMAG hosting a series of joint exhibitions including works by Bridget Riley and Grayson Perry. Plans are already underway for a programme of new shows, which are expected to start in the last quarter of 2016.

Peter Knott, Area Director, Midlands, Arts Council England, said:

This is brilliant news for Birmingham Museums Trust. Everyone should have opportunities to enjoy great arts and culture in the places they live and we’re delighted to be investing in the Trust’s plans to ensure more people in the Midlands can enjoy the Arts Council Collection. Birmingham is already home to an exceptional selection of pre-Raphaelite paintings as well as many outstanding collections attracting tourists from around the world. Now local people and visitors alike will have the chance to enjoy these alongside works from one of the most significant collections of contemporary British art.
This is a hugely exciting opportunity for us to co-curate new content for Birmingham Museums with artists with national and international profiles, create experimental exhibitions and to enable talent from the West Midlands to be displaying their work alongside some of the biggest names in contemporary art,” explains Zelina Garland, curatorial and exhibitions manager.  “The partnership runs for three years, but the focus that it will bring on Birmingham as a beacon for new art will last much longer – bringing new people to the city, and making connections with local people who do not currently access the 800,000 items that we already hold

The two other venues which have also been awarded National Partner status are the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, Towner in Eastbourne. They join Yorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield, which is already a National Partner.

The announcement coincides with details being released of the New Art West Midlands exhibition, which will see BMAG’s Water Hall join other venues around the region to host works by a number of recent art graduates from the West Midlands. Running from 12 February until 15 May 2016, the New Art West Midlands project offers new and emerging artists the chance to display some of their best works in contemporary spaces.  Indeed, artworks displayed as part of the initiative over the last four years have been purchased by both Arts Council Collection and Birmingham Museums Trust to join their permanent collections.

For more details, please visit www.birminghammuseums.org.uk

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