The Barber is a rather small art gallery, but they have an impressive collection.
Quoted from their website: "Among the artists represented are Bellini, Botticelli, Holbein, Veronese, Stom, Baschenis, Rubens, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Poussin, Gainsborough, Turner, Delacroix, Ingres, Rossetti, Whistler, Manet, Degas, Monet, van Gogh, Rodin, Gauguin, Picasso, Matisse, Magritte, and Schiele."
I mean, an original van Gogh right there on the wall. It's not hidden behind glass or anything.
And there is no entry fee. If you spend much time at all around Birmingham, then you have to be a philistine not to go.
Set in the sylvan campus of the University of Birmingham, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts is renowned for its collection of paintings which, while small in scale, is exceptional in quality.
The building itself, opened in 1939, is a wonderful example of red-brick art deco, which received a bronze medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1946. The interior gallery spaces are both intimate and beautifully lit.
Spanning the 13th to 20th centuries, the collection is notable for its Old Masters and Impressionists, but for me it is the religious works of art from the mediaeval and renaissance period which set it apart (and they sell a beautiful range of cards depicting a selection of the works). There is also a collection of world coins and an active programme of high-brow modern and classical music in its 350-seat auditorium, and regular public lectures (see web-site for details).
The museum has level access and accessible toilets.
Nestled away inside the Birmingham uni campus, directly opposite King Edward's Boys School on Edgbaston Park Road, the Barber Institute must be on a 'to-do' list for any budding Birmingham artists. With a wide range of art on display as cited by the other reviews here, you really won't be disappointed, and with free entry you cannot complain!
The assistants, receptionists are very helpful, and if you do have any specific queries, they are willing to help you.
It's only about a five minute drive from the city, and you'd be best getting either one of the 60's busses from town and walking up from Bristol road, or getting the train to Birmingham uni station. Either way, its just behind the East Wing entrance to the uni, and definitely check out the spectacular marble staircase when you are there!
Ok, my disclaimer: I studied for my Masters in the Birmingham History of Art dept., situated in the Barber's basement. This is a great gallery, with a particularly strong collection of Dutch landscapes, and a well-edited collection of Italian masters and late Impressionist paintings. The building is a lovely example of Art Deco architecture, and I can say from direct experience that the staff are knowledgeable and extremely friendly! Worth getting the train out of the city centre for (go to the University stop, from New Street). It's free, too!
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