Located in the heart of downtown Birmingham, you will find the very impressive Birmingham Museum of Art. The museum contains over 22,000 works of arts and is one of the largest and most comprehensive art museums in the Southeast.
What started as five rooms in the city hall at the turn of the last century went on to be this remarkable art museum in 1951. Today works from ancient to modern are covered. They include European, Asian, American, African, pre-Columbian, and Native American. Their decorative arts collection includes one of the most extensive cast iron collections in the world. Here you will find the classic beauty of Tiffany and furniture made by legendary architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. They also have a massive Wedgwood collection. The collection is a feast for the eyes as it shows Wedgwood comes in more than just blue and includes more than just china. It is also the largest special collection devoted to Wedgwood in the world. You can even see what an Oscar looks like up close.
Their paintings include American, Modern, and European. Their American brings to life the beauty of the southwest. Their European includes masters such as Fragonard, Drouais, Courbet, and my favorite…Monet.
Their impressive photography collection shows of the skills of Alfred Stieglitzz, Gordon Parks, Cindy Sherman, and Daine Arbus. She was recently portrayed by Nicole Kidman in the move Fur .
Step outside the museum and enjoy the divine Charles W. Ireland Sculpture Gardens. The gardens offer three levels (Red Mountains Garden, Lower Gallery, and Upper Plaza) and cover over 30,000 sq. ft. The gardens were done in 1993 by Elyn Zimmerman and architect, Edward Larrabee Barnes. The works include Rodin, Botero, Lipchitz, and Caro.
The museum is just incredible offering visitors a multitude of paintings, sculptures, masks, costumes, statues of deities, pottery, and so on. One of my favorites was the Asian display which showed the renowned Ming vases as well as the exquisite and ornate work of the kimono. Once inside the building your eyes will be immediately to the Chihuly glass display jut beyond the visitor’s desk. I asked the volunteer at the desk if they had been lucky enough to have the Chihuly exhibition when it was touring. The very pleasant lady told me that they had commissioned Chihuly to do the Birmingham Persian Wall and Dale had come in specifically to oversee the installation.
You can hold your corporate meeting in their auditorium, have your wedding in their sculpture garden, or host your anniversary dinner as the Persian Wall illuminates at night. The staff is glad to help you with your next corporate or social gathering. In fact when I was here, they were hosting a high school senior party.
The Clarence B. Hanson Jr. Library is one of the largest art research libraries in the Southeast. The library works closely with over 250 other art museums to provide reference material, artist’s files, collection catalogs, auction catalogs, indexes, and periodicals. They also offer online and CD references. They are open from 10am to 4pm during the week.
They have the Terrace Café which over looks the sculpture gardens for when you need to refuel before enjoying the rest of the museum. They do have a gift shop. They are fully handicapped accessible. They do host groups, especially school groups. They do offer free parking. You can pick up a stroller at the visitor's desk. Photography and hand held camcorders are permitted. You have to check in at the security guard desk first though. They also have a number of lectures, classes, and workshops for the public. They also offer several really amazing travel trips.
Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, Sunday noon-5 pm
Closed Monday, New Years, Christmas, and Thanksgiving.
Admission: Free! But please be nice and make a donation. Some events may carry a separate admission.
From October 14th through January 27, 2008, Birmingham Art Museum will be proudly hosting Pompeii: Tales from the Eruption . There are only a handful of museums lucky enough to host this exhibit. Of course admission will be charged for this and you can go on line to purchase tickets. If you like fascinating art exhibits like I do check out www.artknowledgenews.com for information on art exhibits all over the country.
The Birmingham Museum of art is a real treat for the visitor to Birmingham. You can spend hours in here and never get bored. The people of Birmingham truly have a special place here indeed. Now make sure you visit when in town.
Very highly recommended