Birmingham land earmarked for new world-class cultural centre

Image credit: Associated Architects

Proposals for a new centre for heritage, community arts, learning and skills development led by Birmingham Museums Trust, have taken a step forward this week as a plot in the east of the city has been approved for regeneration by Birmingham City Council. 

The plans will transform the agreed site, the closed Pool Way Shopping Centre on Meadway, in Yardley, which is currently underutilised. 

Due to open in 2021, the proposed purpose-built facility will offer a completely new type of cultural proposition to engage and inspire new audiences. The initial phase will create a new storage facility to house the collections currently held at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, in readiness for the redevelopment of the city’s flagship museum.

Subsequent development of the site will create spaces that will be available for community use including a café, homework zone and meeting rooms. Birmingham Museums Trust will offer a programme of events and activities including school visits, store tours, performances and skills development opportunities. 

The building will also become Birmingham Museums’ headquarters, where the Trust will relocate back office, curatorial, conservation and technical teams. The new centre at Pool Way will ensure that people in Birmingham can engage with it in new and exciting ways. Retail and housing space will also form part of the plans to create a multi-use facility. 

Throughout this year Birmingham Museums has been consulting with local people to ensure their feedback informs the development of the plans. Consultations will continue so the project team can work with residents to create flexible community spaces that will benefit generations to come. 

The proposed new centre, in collaboration with partners, will bring fresh training and volunteer opportunities, as well as the prospect of some new jobs.

The Trust has operated a successful career programme supporting young people from across the city to pursue careers in the arts, culture and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). As an extension to this Birmingham Museums will bring apprenticeships and other training offers to the new centre, including educational opportunities for local schools in the area and across the city.The Trust plans to secure funding in a number of ways including applications to the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and Heritage Lottery Fund.

The new facility is the first phase of a wider plan, which includes redeveloping Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (BMAG) as a new museum for Birmingham, in line with much needed major modernisation works to the Council House complex. The proposed new headquarters at Pool Way will allow Birmingham Museums to move staff and collections currently located at BMAG as the redevelopment work at the museum begins.

The new museum will offer better visitor experiences by improving accessibility, creating a new children’s museum, a community gallery, a larger learning suite, a restaurant with direct street access, more retail capacity and a dedicated conference and events space. 

Ellen McAdam, Director of Birmingham Museums Trust, said:

“We are committed to rethinking the way we use this great collection for the benefit of this city’s young, super-diverse citizens.

“Working with residents in the local area, we are determined to transform the site into an ambitious centre which pushes boundaries, and brings together expertise from across the city to inspire and open up opportunities for the people of Birmingham. 

“We know of no other cultural facility of comparable ambition, scope or scale in the UK or internationally, and this is a very exciting time as our plans gather pace.”

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