Birmingham, UK: a guide for art lovers

Where can you see great art in Birmingham, UK? Birmingham has some great things to offer to art lovers: museums, galleries, street art and a lively creative scene.

I took a short trip to Birmingham from London and visited as many art spaces as I could in a couple of days.

There’s plenty of art and culture in Birmingham, from classical fine art to contemporary and experimental projects.

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Get to know Birmingham city centre

When you arrive in Birmingham, you can take a guided tour that will give you a good introduction to the city.

It’s good for orientation and to learn about the city’s history. The guides are local, so you can ask them about local tips.

The guided walking tour ends at Ikon Gallery, which is the first spot for art lovers in this guide.

Here are some of the best places to see art in Birmingham

Ikon gallery – contemporary art

A famous contemporary art gallery in the Brindleyplace district of Birmingham. This one is a must-visit.

Ikon exhibits both local and international programmes. Its temporary exhibitions include sculpture, photography, film, installation and sound.

Ikon was founded back in 1965 by creatives at Birmingham School of Art as a venue for encouraging engagement with modern art.

The gallery’s activities are designed to educate and give the public a better understanding of art. 

The two floor gallery is housed in a beautiful neo gothic building built in 1877 and now listed as a Grade II building.

Address: 1 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace, Birmingham B1 2HS, UK

Birmingham museum and art gallery: classical and ancient art in birmingham

This city centre museum has more than 40 galleries with permanent and temporary exhibitions, featuring art, applied art, social history, archaeology and ethnography.

These include the largest public collection of Pre-Raphaelite artworks in the world; a variety of artworks and objects covering seven centuries of history and culture from different countries and  Birmingham’s history collections.

Address: Chamberlain Sq, Birmingham B3 3DH, United Kingdom

Library of birmingham: an architectural masterpiece (with a gallery)

Birmingham Library

For architecture lovers, the Library of Birmingham is a real treat. I spent a lot of time inside just taking photos of the interior. The exterior is also very unique.

The library has its own gallery space and displays items from its collection and photographic archive, as well as drawings, short films and other pieces.

Address: Centenary Sq, Broad St, Birmingham B1 2EA, UK

Street art in birmingham: digbeth

Street art in Birmingham

Digbeth is the best place in Birmingham to go for beautiful street art. Just wander around and  you’ll see great art, murals, graffiti and paste-ups everywhere.

The area close to the Custard Factory, Birmingham’s Creative Quarter, is the most colourful and has a really wonderful range of styles.

The main streets to find street art in Digbeth are Gibb Street, Floodgate Street, Heath Mill Lane, Fazeley Street and Bordesley Street.

Take a walk or cycle around these streets and enjoy the creativity.

Address: Gibb Street, Digbeth, B9 4AA

Minerva works: creative art spaces

Another place that’s well worth a visit in Digbeth is an interesting complex of art space called Minerva Works.

The art spaces include artist-run contemporary art gallery Grand Union; studio and exhibition space Stryx; and Vivid Projects, a non-profit supporting media arts.

Address: Warwick Bar, 158 Fazeley Street, Birmingham, Digbeth B5 5RS, UK

Rbsa: artist-led gallery

The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists (RBSA) runs this art gallery in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, very close to the city centre.

It features arts and crafts, historic artworks alongside modern and contemporary art.

Its collection of over 800 pieces is very diverse and includes drawings, ceramics, jewellery, sculpture, prints and more.

Address: 4 Brook Street, St. Paul’s Square, Birmingham B3 1SA

travel tips for your visit to birmingham

Getting around birmingham

Birmingham is a big city, but the centre is surprisingly walkable.

The central train station in Birmingham is called Birmingham New Street and it is right in the city centre.

Digbeth and the Jewellery Quarter are all quite close to the centre, so you probably won’t have to use any public transport to see these parts of the city.

birmingham guided tours

There’s a daily guided walk in Birmingham. It’s a good idea to take it if it’s your first time in the city and you want a great overview.

The canals in Birmingham are lovely for a relaxing walk and you can also take a guided tour of the canals that will put what you see in context and entertain you along the way.

If you prefer a tour designed around your own interests, you can take a private tour in Birmingham.

Where to stay in birmingham

It’s a good idea to stay overnight in the city, if you want to see all the art spaces and also have time to walk around, take a tour and see some other attractions. I stayed for a couple of days and it made my trip much more relaxed.

Here are some accommodation options in the city centre:

More guides for art lovers

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