From fine art to pens, bikes and coffins in the Midlands
Birmingham (and its surrounding area) is home to a diverse mixture of museums and galleries. From the traditional opulence of the collections at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts to the more specialised interests at the Pen Museum and Coffin Works, the area's rich heritage provides a broad range of attractions to visit.
Opened in 1885, Birmingham's pre-eminent museum and art gallery is housed in a spectacular Grade II listed building within the city centre. It contains over 40 galleries and houses the largest Pre-Raphaelite collection in the world, the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found and a treasure trove for budding local historians in the Birmingham History collections. Chamberlain Square, Birmingham, B3 3DH, free (some exhibitions and events may charge).
Based in a former pen factory in the heart of Birmingham's jewellery quarter, the UK's only museum dedicated to the history of the pen making industry explains how the city became the centre of the world pen trade. As well as exploring the history of this crucial industry, guests can make their own nibs using traditional machinery and learn about how tough it was to work in the factory. The Argent Centre, 60 Frederick Street, Birmingham, B1 3HS, £5 (£4); under 16s free.
Set in the Grade II premises of the Newman Brothers Coffin Furniture Factory, this museum was opened in 2014. From 1894-1998, the Newman Brothers produced some of the finest coffin furniture in the world, including adornments for the funerals of Churchill, Chamberlain and Diana, Princess of Wales. The original machinery still works and guests can experience what it was like to work in the factory in its heyday. 13-15 Fleet Street, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, B3 1JP, £6 (£5; children 5-16 £4; under 5s free, family £11-16).
The world's largest collection of British motorcycles (over 1,000) are housed at this museum which was opened in 1984 by the late Roy Richards. The collection welcomes 250,000 visitors a year to its location in the heart of the Midlands, situated just a five minute taxi ride from Birmingham International railway station. Coventy Road, Bickenhill, Solihull, West Midlands, B92 0EJ, £9.95 (£7.95; families £25.95).
This art gallery and concert hall is situated in a Grade II Art Deco building within the University of Birmingham. The first building to be purpose-built for the study of art history in the UK, it was opened by Queen Mary in 1939. It houses one of the world's largest coin collections as well as famous works by Van Gogh, Monet, Rodin, Turner and Rubens. University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TS, free.
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