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Birmingham: A City of Culture

From fine art to classical music, ballet, world-class book archives and the UK's oldest working cinema, Birmingham is a city steeped in culture.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is a vibrant museum in the heart of the city with over 40 galleries displaying world-class collections of art, social history, archaeology and ethnography.

The museum holds centuries of European history and culture and is home to art collections of international importance, there is also a celebration of local and industrial history in the ever-changing exhibitions. Packed with interactive activities and designed to appeal to all senses, the museum is a beautiful space for all to connect with our world’s past. You can step inside a 17th century painting, eavesdrop on Albert Einstein or simply stand back and see major works by the Old Masters and Impressionists rub shoulders with Rossetti and Burne-Jones in the world’s largest public collection of Pre-Raphaelite art.

With the most highly valued hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold, the largest known complete Indian bronze sculpture and a whole collection of Egyptian mummies and coffins, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is a treasure trove on the map of arts and culture. Entrance to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is free. There is usually a charge for entry for exhibitions in the Gas Hall. To check prices for specific exhibitions please see the official website.

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From touring West End shows to showcasing local talent, Birmingham and the region's theatres know how to pull a crowd. Half a million people agree; Birmingham’s flagship theatre is the nation’s favourite too. More seats are sold at the Birmingham Hippodrome than by any other British theatre each year including the West End. The 2,000-seat theatre regularly welcomes the cream of British musicals and the UK’s biggest, most spectacular pantos.

Just down the road, The New Alexandra Theatre, is an exquisite Edwardian auditorium staging a rich mix of drama, musicals, concerts and comedy. One of the country’s favourite venues for touring companies. Birmingham Repertory Theatre, or The REP as it is affectionately known, is one of Britain’s leading producing theatres. It creates entirely new plays, working with the writers, directors and actors to bring many world premieres to the stage.

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The Library of Birmingham

The Library has become a major cultural destination in Birmingham City. Designed by Dutch architects Mecanoo, the Library has transformed the city’s library services and become a major cultural destination, housing Birmingham’s world-class collections of archives, photography and rare books as well as a million printed volumes, the largest number held by any public library in the UK. Of these, over 400,000 books are available on the Library’s public floors.

At 31,000 sq. metres it is the largest public library in Europe.

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Birmingham Royal Ballet

The Birmingham Royal Ballet is Britain's premier touring ballet company. The Company leads the world in the creation of new and innovative popular ballets and has a busy programme of shows throughout the year.

Based at Birmingham Hippodrome, the company performs a range of traditional, classical and heritage ballets as well as ground-breaking new works with the aim to encourage choreographers and composers of the future.

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Birmingham has a wide range of dance companies and venues, from many different cultures. DanceXchange, a dance house based in the Birmingham Hippodrome complex, brings together dance artists, companies, educators and venues in the promotion of dance activity. Sampad is a dynamic development agency for South Asian Arts based in Birmingham. It plays a significant role in the UK promoting the appreciation and practice of the diverse art forms originating from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. RoguePlay, Birmingham's most innovative Circus Theatre Company, combines the spoken word with unsurpassable Physical Theatre and stunning Aerial Circus.

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Visual Arts

One of Europe's leading contemporary art galleries, Ikon is stylish, progressive and recognised for its individuality. The Ikon exhibits the best international and British art in a changing programme of exhibitions and events. Admission is free.

Birmingham's unique Jewellery Quarter is home to Europe’s largest school of jewellery. There’s a number of galleries showcasing work including the UK’s second oldest independent art gallery; the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists. St. Paul’s Gallery is also a must visit and is notable for being the world’s leading retailer of signed record covers.

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts has an outstanding collection of Old Masters alongside and modern classics. You’ll see works by Rubens, Gainsborough, Rossetti, Monet, Degas and Magritte.

Eastside Projects based in Digbeth is a new model for a gallery, one where space and programme are intertwined. Alongside experimental contemporary art practices and exhibitions, the gallery has featured long-term, permanent works from international artists.

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Hollywood or Bollywood? Art house or blockbuster? Birmingham cinema gives you film at its finest from spacious and welcoming multiplexes to the UK’s oldest working cinema. For a night out at the movies there are plenty of great cinemas to choose from in Birmingham and the surrounding area.

In the city centre there’s both a Cineworld and two Odeon's, as well as an Everyman Cinema situated in The Mailbox, and you’ll find Vue over at Star City, one of the largest cinema complexes in the world with 30 different screens.

The magical Electric Cinema in central Birmingham is the oldest working cinema in the UK. Opened in 1909, the refurbished Electric is not short on home comforts with its luxury sofa seating, waiter service and full bar.

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The city and the region offers such an eclectic and full music programme because of its range of venues, local talent and passionate audiences. Whether it’s a huge arena tour or an intimate gig, you’ll find it in Birmingham.

Symphony Hall is widely regarded as the finest concert hall in Europe and the nearby Town Hall provides a majestic location. Over at the Barclaycard Arena and sister venue the Genting Arena, just ten minutes out of the city centre, a constant stream of world famous rock and pop acts take to the stage night after night.

The Bramall Music Building is a purpose build music venue on the University of Birmingham Campus and at the Birmingham Hippodrome, the Welsh National Opera, countless West End Musicals and the world-famous Birmingham Royal Ballet offer real choice. Together with many smaller venues that range from the O2 Academy to the Jam House to theatres staging all sorts of concerts or gigs, all kinds of music have a home in Birmingham.

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Content / Images courtesy of Visit Birmingham

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