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Barber Institute of Fine Arts

Barber Institute of Fine Art -


University of Birmingham
B15 2TS


Tel : +44 0121 414 7333

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The Barber Institute of Fine Arts is housed in one of Birmingham’s finest Art Deco buildings, purpose built and opened by Queen Mary in 1939.

The Barber Institute was designed by Robert Atkinson (1883-1952), one of Britain’s leading architects of the 1920s and ’30s. When it opened The Times described the building as ‘the purest example of his work’ and it continues to be regarded as one of his greatest achievements.

In 1946 the building received a bronze medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects and in 1981 was listed Grade II by the Department of the Environment.

The design of the building came as a result of a close collaboration between Atkinson and the Barber’s first Director, Professor Thomas Bodkin, and was influenced by new galleries built at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, the Boymans Museum, Rotterdam and the Gemeentemuseum at the Hague.

The building is laid out around the central music auditorium, surrounded by corridors. On the Ground floor these form offices, lecture halls and libraries for the Departments of Music and History of Art. The galleries occupy the same space on the first floor, approached by a magnificent travertine staircase directly opposite the entrance.

Atkinson had originally planned for the addition of a courtyard and a substantial extension, but in 1965, the building of the Music Library changed these designs. In 1974 the Reserve Gallery was built on top of the Music Library to house works of art not currently on display, and finally between 1986-89, the metal and glass roof was added, along with a top-lit picture gallery.

Atkinson designed two further musuem interiors, the Colman Galleries at the Castle Museum in Norwich, which opened in 1951, and the Graham Robertson and Students’ Rooms at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, which were completed posthumously in 1955.

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By Road

Nearest major road is M5. A38 towards city centre, after 8 miles turn left into Edgbaston Park Road, the University is on the left.

By Public Transport

Nearest station is Birmingham University Station. Turn left out of the station and walk through the campus, the Barber Institute is the last building on the left.

Barber Institute of Fine Art -
Barber Institute of Fine Art -

Barber Institute of Fine Arts facilities include:

  • Groups accepted
  • Min group size
  • Max group size
  • Café/restaurant
  • Toilets

Barber Institute of Fine Arts accessibility includes:

  • Ramp/level access
  • Toilets for disabled visitors
  • All areas accessible to disabled visitors
  • Service dogs permitted (eg guide dogs)

Contact - Barber Institute of Fine Arts


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