An Edwardian tea room set amongst some of the most beautiful paintings in the country? Count us in! To celebrate the re-opening of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, we take a stroll through its iconic collections before enjoying a glass of bubbles at the touch of a button.
A jewel in Birmingham’s cultural crown, BMAG has stood proud over the city for nearly 140 years. While work continues in parts of the museum, the Round Room, Industrial Gallery, Edwardian Tearooms, Gallery 10 and Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery Shop are now open seven days a week. It is the first time since October 2020 that visitors have been able to return to this leading tourist attraction, and a number of areas have been handed over to some of the city’s most exciting creatives to celebrate Birmingham. The new displays bring together themes such as culture identity, community and media, supported by a programme of live events including talks and performances.
SIR JACOB EPSTEIN’S LUCIFER
If you visiting the Tearooms, make sure you take the time to fully appreciate the art on display before you settle down to dine – in particular Sir Jacob Epstein’s Lucifer. Considered to be his most important work, it represents the Archangel Lucifer, referred to as the bringer of light and the most beautiful of all angels, before his fall from Heaven.
It was gifted to Birmingham Museums Trust and is synonymous with the Round Room Gallery, where it welcomes millions of visitors each year as they enter the museum. Sir Jacob Epstein actually attended the statue’s installation in 1947 and reportedly watched on nervously as two-tonnes of bronze sculpture was carefully hoisted in through a window. Lucifer has taken pride of place as a permanent display ever since.
TIME FOR TEA
The Edwardian Tearooms is definitely one of the city’s hidden gems. It’s been beautifully restored to its former splendour – from its impressively high ceilings to its panelled gallery – and offers visitors the chance to enjoy a host of treats while being enveloped in Birmingham’s fine history.
Treat yourself to an indulgent afternoon tea with scones, strawberry preserve, Cornish clotted cream, and a selection of sandwiches and afternoon cakes (there’s a cream tea option too); or enjoy a family Sunday roast with beef and Yorkshire pudding, loin of pork with apple sauce, or wild mushroom pie. There’s also breakfast, brunch, a children’s menu and street eats too, with special offers running throughout the week.
Our favourite bit? Fizz is available at the touch of a button. Yes really! BMAG has partnered with the award-winning House of PIPER-HEIDSIECK to launch its Press For Champagne service. Each private booth has been installed with its very own Champagne buzzer – just one press and your server is on hand to guide you through the full PIPER-HEIDSIECK menu. Cuvées include Brut NV, the Vintage 2008, and the exclusive Rare Millésime 2002, which can be pre-ordered for a special occasion.