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Best Museums in Birmingham

, 10 Options Found

Housing one of the world's finest collections of Pre-Raphaelite art, with works by Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown and Holman Hunt, Birmingham's principal museum and gallery is located in a stunning Victorian building. The museum displays works by British and European artists, along with collections of ceramics, sculpture, silver and stained glass. You can also find archaeological, ethnographic and local history exhibits, including Egyptian mummies.

The Black Country is a large industrial area to the north-west of Birmingham and this museum is a reminder of how things used to be here 100 years ago. It comprises many historic buildings, taken down from elsewhere and re-erected to make an authentic town of a century ago. Highlights include an old-fashioned funfair, a narrowboat ride and a trip down a coal mine, light is deliberately kept to the levels that would have been experienced by the miners. All children and adults can take a lesson in an 1840s school and tour round a Victorian sweetshop, chemist's, nail-making shop and stables, among many other exhibits.

As the only surviving example of the once prevalent Back to Backs of Birmingham, these historic buildings are a rare treasure. During the 19th Century, a number of buildings were built back to back around a common courtyard to meet the demands of the rapidly growing population of the city as a result of industrialization. These houses were inhabited by the working class who managed to survive in these cramped quarters. Each of the four Back to Backs around the courtyard has been restored and refurnished as a representation of four different time periods, giving visitors an extremely rare opportunity to take a peek into the lives of the ordinary working men and women of the 1840s, 1870s, 1930s and 1970s. Only a few slots are available each day and prior reservations are a must if you wish to visit these homes.

This award-winning museum, restored to its original 18th Century appearance, was the former home of the city's industrial pioneer Matthew Boulton. Soho House was often used as a meeting place for the Lunar Society: a group that counted Josiah Wedgwood (famous pottery maker) and Joseph Priestley (discoverer of oxygen) amongst its members. On display are some of the products of Boulton's nearby Soho Manufactory, including buttons and buckles, as well as silver and Sheffield Plate. The Lunar Society was so called because its members met when there was a full moon. This enabled them to see their way home safely in time before street lamps were in common use.

Built between 1618 and 1635 by Sir Thomas Holte, this fine Jacobean mansion is one of Birmingham's crown jewels. The house was used to harbor King Charles I for a short time during the Civil War, and the Great Stairs still bear scars left behind by cannon fire. Although changes were made to the Hall during the 17th and 18th Centuries, it remains largely Jacobean in style. Today, Aston Hall serves as an educational working museum and it has its own schools' liaison team. Over 20 rooms have been opened to the public, and it also hosts magical candle-lit guided tours every December. Managed by the Birmingham Museums Trust, Aston Hall shelters decadent rooms ornamented with splendid furniture, textiles and metalwork. It is also embellished with a spectacular elongated gallery. Skirted by a verdant, rolling park, this gargantuan, red-brick mansion is a magnificent remnant of the 17th-century regality.

Blakesley Hall is a timber framed Elizabethan yeoman's farmhouse, built in 1590 in Old Yardley for Richard Smallbroke (a Birmingham businessman and farmer). The Hall is furnished and staffed in 17th-century fashion and is a fascinating place to visit. It is open to schools as well as the public.

One of United Kingdom's finest vestiges of medieval-age military architecture, the legendary Warwick Castle sits right in the heart of the Warwick Castle Knight's Village. The castle, William I's iconic stronghold that he built in 1068, encapsulates nearly 1000 years of history. Originally built as a motte-and-bailey castle, it was equipped with a stone keep in the 12th Century, during Henry I's rule. Its displays today include a host of medieval weaponry, vivid waxworks, and the Herculean 18-meter (59-foot) Warwick trebuchet, known as one of the largest siege engines of its kind in the world.

The jewellery industry developed in Birmingham from the mid-19th Century. The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter is an award-winning working museum which offers a guided tour around a real jewelry factory, showing you all the different aspects of jewelry in the 19th Century and also highlighting the work of new designers. There is a tea room, in case you need refreshments, plus a shop from which you can purchase souvenirs, books and jewelry. If English is not your mother tongue, then you can will find guided tours on tape in French, Hindi, Japanese, Spanish and German.

Established in 2001, the Thinktank (Birmingham Science Museum) is located with the Millennium point complex. A hands-on museum is an exciting place for children and adults alike. Within the fours storied building, each floor symbolizes a theme. There are scientific demonstrations, future exhibitions that talk about technology and inventions including the study of robotics, that are path-breaking and thus have drawn large crowds. With over 200 scientific displays, the museum draws curious science addicts from all over. A visit to this museum calls for a fun and educational outing.

National Motorcycle Museum houses a collection of over 700 veteran and unusual motorcycles and memorabilia from the 19th and 20th Centuries. Unsurprisingly, this is a fascinating place for both children and adults to learn about the history of an industry which once dominated the world. Conference facilities and seminar rooms are also available and various exhibitions (other than of motorcycles) are held here too, like November's Doll & Teddy Fair. The venue is located opposite the NEC and offers easy access to the M42.

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