The collection of the Birmingham Museum of Art in Birmingham comprises more than 25,000 objects. It is one of the most important art museums in the southeastern United States of America and is located in the beautiful state of Alabama.
The Birmingham Museum of Art was founded in 1951 and is located in the city center of Birmingham. The Birmingham Museum of Art grew out of the Birmingham Art Club, which was founded in 1908 to promote the city’s culture.
The interest in art should be aroused in both children and adults through the variety of different objects.
In addition, paintings and works of art from many different regions were collected and exhibited by the Birmingham Art Club. Over time, and through an estate of $19,000 in 1935, it became the Birmingham Museum of Art.
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The first collection in 1951 consisted of gifts of Chinese ceramics, textiles and Japanese prints, Old Master paintings, costumes, glass and oil paintings.
In 1952 the museum received a loan of 29 Italian Renaissance paintings from The Samuel H. Kress Foundation. This collection is the most popular visitor destination and is now the core of the Birmingham Museum of Art’s collection.
The current museum building was constructed in 1959 in the heart of the city of Birmingham and has expanded over time. It was designed by Birmingham architects Warren, Knight & Davis. In 1993, the building was expanded and renovated according to New York architect Edward Larrabee Barnes.
This results in an exhibition area of 180,000 square meters. Of that, 150,000 square feet are in the three-story building and 30,000 square feet in the large outdoor sculpture garden.
Overall, the entire collection of the museum in Birmingham consists of paintings, prints, sculptures, modern art, drawings, graphics and videos from ancient to modern times. Different cultures of the USA are united in the Birmingham Museum of Art.
Special exhibitions at the museum in Birmingham included the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci, Culture of the Indigenous Peoples in Amazonia, German Ceramics of the 1950s and Modern Korean Prints by Artist Kim Sangku.
In 2009, the exhibition “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” was held at the museum. This is American art from the Yale University Art Gallery, resulting in a partnership between the two museums.
The Birmingham Museum of Art is divided into the following departments: African Art, American Art, Asian Art, Contemporary Art, Decorative Art, European Art, Native American Art and Pre-Columbian Art.
The African art collection at the Birmingham Museum of Art consists of around 1,600 objects with a focus on South Africa. As a visitor, you are presented with the great diversity of the huge continent with the many cultures, languages, religions and traditions of African art. A collection of masks, sculptures, ceramics, textiles, instruments, jewelery and clothing gives an insight into the great diversity of the individual regions in Africa.
The American Art section exhibits paintings, ornamental art, and sculpture from the late 18th century to the mid-20th century. These include paintings by Gilbert Stuart, Childe Hassam, John Singer Sargent and sculptures by Hiram Powers and Frederic Remington.
An interesting work is Albert Bierstadt’s National Endowment for the Humanities-awarded masterpiece Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California (1865) which tells American history.
Asian art has been at the Birmingham Museum of Art since the museum’s inception in 1951. It all began with a gift of Chinese textiles and has expanded to include ceramics, paintings, prints and sculptures. The collection now includes pieces from Japan, China, Korea, India and Southeast Asia and is home to more than 4,000 objects. It is the only collection of Korean art in the US Southeast and the most important collection of Vietnamese ceramics and the Vetlesen Jade Collection, a collection from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
Modern and Contemporary Art
A modern art collection from the 19th to the 20th century consists of artworks and black and white photographs. The works of Alexander Archipenko, Alfred Leslie, Salvador Dalí, Joseph Cornell, Louise Nevelson and Mark Tobey are particularly worth seeing. But also the photographs of Irving Penn, Imogen Cunningham, George Platt Lynes, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Berenice Abbott and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Contemporary art shows what artists have created in works and photographs over the last hundred years. This includes many sculptures on the open-air site of the museum.
European Decorative Arts
More than 16,000 pieces from the Renaissance period to the present, including ceramics, porcelain, silver, ironwork, furniture and glass, are contained in the museum’s core exhibition, the European Decorative Arts department. Among them are the largest collections of Wedgwood pottery in the world, the Gustav Lamprecht Collection and the Eugenia Woodward Hitt collection of eighteenth-century French art.
Art from the Renaissance and Baroque periods from the late 13th century to the 19th century is shown in the European Art department. A highlight is the Kress Collection. Other works in the Birmingham Museum of Art collection are by Pietro Perugino, Antonio Canaletto, Paris Bordone, Jacob van Ruisdael, Ferdinand Bol, Balthasar van der Ast, Thomas Gainsborough, Thomas Lawrence, Francois-Hubert Drouais, Jean-Baptiste Oudry, Mary Cassatt, Gustave Courbet and Jean Baptiste Camille Corot.
Native American Art
The Native American Collection at the Birmingham Museum consists of around 450 objects. These are divided by region: Eastern Woodlands and the Great Lakes, Southeast, the Plains, Northwest Coast, and the Southwest. The collection consists of Navajo blankets and rugs, pottery, Cherokee baskets and much more.
The Pre-Columbian Collection at the Birmingham Museum of Art consists of over 500 objects from the regions: Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru. Much of the collection comes from the Olmec, Maya, Zapotec, Aztec, Moche, Chimu and Inca cultures and religions. Highlights include a Zapotec urn, a Mayan cylinder vase, a Jalisco tomb figure and a mold made from Costa Rican volcanic rock. The department got its name after the discoverer Christopher Columbus.
The Hanson Library is one of the largest art history libraries in the Southeastern United States with over 35,000 items. The library contains the following information: art reference works, auction catalogues, artist files, periodicals, indices, exhibition catalogs and art databases.
Entrance to the Birmingham Museum
As long as there are no special exhibitions, admission to the museum is free, as it is supported by the city and private sponsors.
Opening hours of the Birmingham Museum of Art in Birmingham
The Birmingham Museum of Art is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm. On Sunday it is open from noon to 5 p.m. The museum is closed on important public holidays.
Directions & parking at the Birmingham Museum of Art
The Birmingham Museum of Art is located at 2000 Rev. Abraham Woods, Jr. Blvd (formerly 8th Avenue North) in downtown Birmingham. It is on the corner of Rev. Abraham Woods, Jr. Blvd. and Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard (North 21st Street) on the left side of the street.
Free parking is located behind the museum on Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard. Additional parking is available at the Boutwell Parking Deck and along Ninth Avenue North. There are designated parking spaces for visitors with disabilities.
Flash and tripod photography is not permitted in the museum. If you want to take photos you have to buy a permit and then you can only take photos without a flash.
When special exhibitions are running, photography is generally prohibited.
The Birmingham Museum of Art provides an unparalleled cultural experience for the community through the collection, presentation, interpretation and preservation of works of art.
See the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau for information on other things to see in Birmingham.
Address of the Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama
2000 Rev. Abraham Woods, Jr. Blvd
(formerly 2000 8th Ave. N.)
Birmingham, Alabama 35203