Sunday, 24 February 2013

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

A museum and art gallery is not an obvious place to take a toddler, but here are a few reasons why you should:

Unlike lots of cultural attractions, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is completely free.  So even if all you do is go in for a drink in an unusual place, you've lost nothing.

The "Birmingham: its people and history" gallery has been designed to appeal to all ages.  My 3 year old was particularly interested in the model of medieval Birmingham where he could press the lights to see the church, the herd of cattle and other exciting features.  Although I suspect he thought it would have been improved with a model railway.  And he really liked the activity where you could build a church and house with big blocks.  Other things that appealed included the model swords in the Staffordshire Hoard gallery and some of the great big light installations. 

The Edwardian tea room is beautiful ornate gallery, and a lovely place for parents to have a drink, with all the breakable things behind glass cases.  It offers children's lunchboxes for £3.65 for a sandwich and 4 other items, or £3.95 for a child size portion of any of the main meals.  For grown ups it has a full range of drinks (although the coffee is not brilliant), cakes, sandwiches, hot meals and afternoon tea.

You may even get a moment to look at something beautiful while you are there.  The art gallery has a great collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings, bits of the Staffordshire Hoard and a huge Buddha. Take your pick!

Round up

Cafe Latte price: £2.30
Favourite cake: Toasted tea cake or muffins, both £1.80
Child friendly highlights: Lunchboxes and children's meals.  Baby change available (a bit out of date but has everything you need including a high chair in the toilet cubicle - very helpful!)  Various trails, quizzes, activities etc around the galleries as children get a bit bigger.
Buggy friendly: The steps up to the building are a bit off putting but there is disabled/buggy access round the side of the building and lifts throughout.  Tea room is roomy and all on one level.
Car parking: This is the middle of Brum - use the local car parks or get the train and walk up New Street.


It started out as somewhere to shelter on a very cold February day, but I'm glad we tried this, even if our first trip was quite short.  It made a great alternative to all the chain coffee shops in the middle of Birmingham and I'm sure we'll be back as our toddler gets older.

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