Guest Author - Nick Greene
This often overlooked attraction is a real gem. Home to a wonderful permanent collection and some fascinating changing exhibits, the Birmingham Museum of Art is a must see for any visitor to the city.
Founded in 1951, the Birmingham Museum of Art has its roots in the 1908 forming of the Birmingham Art Club. Early art exhibits were displayed in a gallery provided by the Birmingham Public Library. After receiving a bequest of $19,000 to be held in trust in 1935, it was a number of years of planning and fund raising until 1950 when City government passed an ordinance to create the Museum Board of the City of Birmingham. The following year, the Birmingham Museum of Art was officially opened in City Hall. It was nearly a decade later (May 3, 1959) when its current permanent home was opened to the public. Over the years, the museum has expanded its home as well as its collection to become the magnificent facility it is today.
The 150,000 square feet three-story building (with an additional 30,000 square feet outdoor sculpture garden) is the home to more than 24,000 paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, and decorative arts dating from ancient to modern times. These wonderful pieces come from Asia and Africa, Europe and the Americas and range from Pre-Columbian and Native American to modern art.
Feel free to explore the museum on your own or take one of the many guided tours offered, which include: Discover the BMA (highlights), America Then and Now, Black History 365, Hands Across Art, European Masterpieces: The Grand Tour, The Arts of Asia, The Native American Experience and Special Exhibitions Tours. While you could spend all day or even several days exploring, if you are limited on time, the museum has a list of 12 works that should not be missed. Ask at any of the desks for a copy of the self guided One Hour Highlights Tour.
Take a break during your visit and enjoy a meal at Oscar's Cafe. They serve a seasonal menu of sandwiches, salads and desserts. Plus, there's a special tapas menu during the afterhours First Thursdays at the museum. Don't forget to visit the gift shop before leaving the museum.
General admission for the Birmingham Museum of Art is free, however admission may be charged for special blockbuster exhibitions. Their hours are typically Tuesday – Saturday, 10am-5pm and Sunday, noon-5pm. They are closed major holidays. You can check their website or call 205.254.2565 to confirm holiday closings. The first Thursday of each month, the museum presents a special afterhours experience. From 5 - 9pm, the galleries will be open for viewing, special food and drinks are available and special events and films can be attended.
Birmingham Museum of Art (http://artsbma.org/)
2000 Rev. Abraham Woods, Jr. Blvd
(formerly 2000 8th Ave. N.)
Birmingham, Alabama 35203
Phone: (205) 254-2565