Skip to main content

Jewel of the South: Birmingham Museum of Art

Jewel of the South:
Birmingham Museum of Art

The Birmingham Museum of Art is worth at least an afternoon's leisurely perusal, and, with more than 24,000 paintings, sculptures, and more, possibly a second visit to properly appreciate all the collections on view.
Birmingham Museum of Art, main entrance
Well attended by locals, the Museum probably doesn't make it on many touristy lists, and that's just wrong. There is a large, interesting, and diverse collection to be discovered in a gorgeous and colourful building.
Courtyard, Birmingham Museum of Art
At the east end of the building, you'll find the Museum's signature work. The New York based artist was bowled over by his trip west in 1859, and completed this painting from sketches and studies back in his Manhattan studio. It's internationally recognized as a particularly fine example of landscape art.
Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California. 1865
Oil on canvas. 64 1/2 × 96 1/2 inches
by Albert Bierstadt
American; born in Germany (1830-1902)

It's on display beside a large abstract painting by artist Helen Frankenthaler. Frankenthaler's abstract works are inspired by the landscapes she's experienced, and she creates her work by pouring acrylic paint on a canvas, then apply brushstrokes. A third piece nearby forms a kind of intriguing triptych.

Hungry Man's Cross (2006) - left
Mixed media by Lonnie Holley, born in Birmingham AL 1950
Like this area, the current shows mix historic and contemporary works in thought provoking ways, while the Museum's various collections are organized in more conventional geographic and historic categories.
Birmingham Museum of Art, main floor
A long hallway runs through the entire ground floor, itself mounted with a current exhibition. Along the hallway, doors lead to a labyrinth of smaller galleries winding off to each side, with walls painted in a distinctive array of colours.
Birmingham Museum of Art
Here are some of the highlights and recurring themes you'll find.
Birmingham Museum of Art

Small European Treasures

There are some surprising small treasures of the Eurocentric tradition. We can all now recognize at what cost the Eurocentric world came to be, but perhaps the one thing we can gain from the exercise is the notion that, in a society that flourishes, the arts do as well, and I think you can see that principle in play all over the world as the shadow of colonialism begins to lift. In the meantime, there is Gainsboroough.

Two by Thomas Gainsborough

Even a Dali.
Perseus - Homage to Benevenuto Cellini (1976)
Salvador Dali
Bronze, gift to the Museum

Civil Rights Movement

There's an emphasis on the city's key role in the Civil Rights Movement and its history, including some key photographs and other artistic expression of the movement and time period.

First Desegregated Bus Ride: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Rev. Ralph Abernathy on first desegregated bus ride - Montgomery, AL December 1956, printed 1994 
by Ernest C. Withers, American (1922-2007)


There is a deliberate emphasis on including local and regional Southern American artists of colour in the collections and exhibits.

oil paintings by Charles Eugene Shannon
American (1914-1996)

A native of Montgomery, AL - his work focuses on the everyday world of African Americans, a subject that was not at all the norm in its day.
Birmingham Museum of Art - Wedgwood collection


The Museum houses the largest collection of Wedgwood ceramics outside the UK - luminous and endless galleries of beautiful decorative items.
Vintage Wedgwood from the Birmingham Museum of Art collection

Upstairs from the foyer, you reach a gallery level, with similar smaller galleries off a central promenade. The collections on the second level feature works and artefacts from all over the globe.
Birmingham Museum of Art, foyer & stairs

Birmingham Museum of Art
2000 Rev. Abraham Woods, Jr. Blvd
(Formerly 2000 8th Ave. N)
Birmingham, AL 35203
T: 205.254.2565
F: 205.731.9425
Birmingham Museum of Art, Asian gallery

Birmingham Museum of Art, Native American (First Nations) gallery

Birmingham Museum of Art, Callaghan Gallery

Tuesday-Saturday: 10am-5pm
Sunday: Noon-5pm
First Fridays: open until 9pm
Closed Mondays and Major Holidays
General Admission is FREE
Birmingham Museum of Art, Pre-Columbian sculpture

Birmingham Museum of Art, 18th century French sculpture & art

Birmingham Museum of Art, Japanese gallery

Lunch served 11am-2pm,
Tuesday through Friday
Brunch on select Sundays


What Else Is Hot This Week?

Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company Spring 2013 Toronto Performances

From a media release:

The new season brings
Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company
to new heights and new audiences

March 20-24, 2013 - A Night in Madrid
April 25-28, 2013 - Annual Toronto Season - World Premiere of Portales

TORONTO : Following on the heels of Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company's (EESDC) 30th anniversary year where its production Aguas/Waters was named one of the top five dance shows of 2012 by NOW Magazine, the early months of 2013 are full of excitement and possibility for Esmeralda and the company, which brings the finest flamenco and Spanish Classical Dance to Toronto stages.

March 20-24, 2013 - A Night in Madrid
Company dancers Esmeralda Enrique and Paloma Cortés perform Spanish Classical dance with the celebrated Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir for A Night in Madrid featuring the Iberian flavoured music of composer Luigi Boccherini who made his home in Spain. His work is infused with the sounds of Spanish and gypsy folk music.

March 20-24 …

Polina Semionova to Appear as Guest Artist with American Ballet Theatre

From a media release:


New York - Polina Semionova, a principal dancer with Berlin State Opera Ballet, will debut as a Guest Artist with American Ballet Theatre for the 2011 Metropolitan Opera House season, it was announced January 14, 2011 by Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie. With ABT, Semionova will perform Kitri in Don Quixote at the matinee on Saturday, May 21, opposite David Hallberg as Basilio, and the dual role of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake on Saturday evening, July 2, opposite Hallberg as Prince Siegfried.

Born in Moscow, Semionova studied at the Bolshoi Ballet School before joining the Berlin State Opera Ballet as the company’s youngest principal dancer. Her repertoire with Berlin State Opera Ballet includes Odette-Odile in Swan Lake, Nikiya in La Bayadère, Marie in The Nutcracker, Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Swanilda in Coppélia, Kitri in Don Quixo…

Lithuanian Rock: Robertas Semeniukas - Backstage Stories (Independent / November 20, 2019)

Robertas Semeniukas - Backstage Stories
(Independent / November 20, 2019)
Stream it on Spotify
The Album "Backstage Stories" 2xLP & CD

Robertas Semeniukas is a great find if you like your rock with a hard edge and a strong groove. Naturally, guitar reigns supreme, with a sound that ranges from snarly to fluid and melodic, and virtuosic chops to keep everything interesting. You don't have to understand Lithuanian to enjoy the well-crafted songs and polished musicianship.

Of the 20 tracks, 8 are instrumental. This is rock in what you'd call a classic vein, heavily influenced by 1980s and 1990s bands, but with a modern gloss to it, and a sense of musical experimentation that isn't often associated with that era in Western pop music. Robertas wrote or co-wrote all the tracks except for one cover, the blues composition You Gotta Move by Mississippi Fred McDowell.

Within the rock/metal genre, the prolific composer, singer and musician mines a variety of moods. So…

So You Can't Go: Six Ways To Travel Virtually

So You Can't Go:
Six Ways To Travel VirtuallyTravel is limited for most of us in the world these days. For Canadians, it depends on the province you live in, but with the border to the US still closed, and other options limited at best, virtual travel from the couch can provide at least a view with a difference at a time when you may well need it most. Google Cardboard – VR On A BudgetYou don't need a lot of cash to get into travel via virtual reality. Google Cardboard is a line of VR viewers that are, well, made of cardboard, and are priced starting at $12CAD.If you check out this link, you'll find out how to download the software to your smartphone.At this link, you can get yourself an actual Google Cardboard for a hands-free VR experience. Google Cardboard apps offer a variety of ways to experience our beautiful planet, including Google Earth itself, which can take you anywhere, along with apps to view museums and cultural artifacts, and more.Ascape VRAscape has a huge l…

Blues/Rock: The Cole Patenaude Band - Are You Happy Now? (Independent / 24 July 2020)

The Cole Patenaude Band - Are You Happy Now?
(Independent / 24 July 2020) Buy the CD Big vocals and infectious grooves make up this release from The Cole Patenaude Band. It's modern blues with a classic sensibility, anchored by solid musicianship and upbeat songwriting. 
Keyboard player Dean Thiessen and Patenaude on guitar trade off solos and melodic lines to keep it interesting through a range of bluesy style, incorporating rock and country, with a pop song sheen on songs like For the Money. Would You Be Mine is more Elvis-esque rockabilly, while How To Love is an acoustic song with folky storytelling lyrics and feel. 
Compromise is a standout track, with a snarly guitar line and a churchy organ swelling underneath a nice bluesy beat. Horns aren't credited in the notes, but I swear I heard some on this and a couple of the other tracks. 
As a husband, father, and full-time mechanic based in Langley, British Columbia, finding the time to make his music was a challenge…