The Birmingham Museum of Art reopens Oct. 6—plus 5 new exhibits

Birmingham Museum of Art
I’m so looking forward to walking through those doors again and feasting my eyes on new images. Photo via Birmingham Museum of Art

Who else has been missing the Birmingham Museum of Art during the pandemic? They’re planning to reopen to the public Tuesday, October 6. And, they’ve got five exhibits coming this fall that’ll make you want to stop by for a visit.

The Birmingham Museum of Art has lots and lots of space for you to enjoy

Courtyard of the Birmingham Museum of Art
Doesn’t that courtyard look so inviting. Photo via Birmingham Museum of Art’s Facebook page

In consultation with public health experts, the City of Birmingham and the Museum’s Board of Trustees, the BMA has decided it’s almost time to reopen the doors.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Visitor attendance: capped at 50% of overall capacity
  • Hours: Saturdays 10AM-5PM, Sundays noon-5PM

These fan favorites are closed until further notice:

  • Oscar’s Cafe, the BMA’s on-site restaurant
  • Bart’s ArtVenture, the interactive space for children

Here’s what *will* be open to enjoy:

  • The 150,000 square foot museum
  • The 30,000 square foot outdoor area, including the Red Mountain Garden Club Memorial Garden

This means there’s plenty of room to enjoy the art and beauty without worrying that you’ll be bumping into other people. Bonus: it’s all free.

A place for healing and entertainment

Graham Boettcher, Birmingham Museum of Art
Graham Boettcher, Director of the Birmingham Museum of Art. Photo via Pinterest

“To say that we’ve missed our visitors is an understatement. The Birmingham Museum of Art exists to serve our community, and for more than half a century, that has meant welcoming people through our doors and into our galleries.

While the pandemic is far from over, we believe that art is a powerful medium, with the ability to both heal and entertain at a time when our community may need it most.

We have 27,000 works of art from around the world, but it’s people who are the lifeblood of this institution, and we cannot wait to have them back at the BMA.”

Dr. Graham C. Boettcher, R. Hugh Daniel Director

Look for three new exhibitions when the BMA opens, and two more later this fall

All Museum programming will continue virtually through at least the end of 2020, and you can still #BMAfromHome through a variety of digital offerings on the BMA’s website.

That said, in-person visitors will be able to see a total of five new exhibitions this fall, which is super-exciting:

1. Wall to Wall

Merritt Johnson, Wall to Wall
Wall to Wall: Merritt Johnson: “Skydome Bends Down to See Why the Water Is So Heavy” Merritt Johnson 2020, courtesy of the Birmingham Museum of Art  

Presented by PNC, this new project invites artists to take over the Museum’s lobby and cafe with city-inspired artwork.

I for one can’t wait to walk in and see the wallcoverings of Merritt Johnson’s work stretching across the Museum’s two largest spaces.

Alaska-based Merritt Johnson considers the land and water of Birmingham while exploring the ways humans have devalued these natural resources in the quest for profit.

2. All Things Bright and Beautiful

School of Beauty, School of Culture at the BMA
School of Beauty, School of Culture,  Kerry James Marshall, American, born 1955, Museum purchase with funds provided by Elizabeth (Bibby) Smith, the Collectors Circle for Contemporary Art, Jane Comer, the Sankofa Society, and general acquisition funds, 2012.57, image © Kerry James Marshall

Amy Sherald’s portrait of a young Black girl depicts the joy and optimism of a child with her whole life in front of her. This exhibit takes its name from that portrait, and pulls contemporary art from the Museum’s permanent collection.

The themes? Power and agency. When you look at them all together, the works illustrate the importance of being seen, choosing how to be depicted, and having the power to tell your own history.

3. Ways of Seeing: Buildings and Monuments

Bringing together nearly sixty objects from the Museum’s collection, this exhibit is designed to get people to think more deeply. About what? The relationship between artists and architects, yes, but also the power and problems with seeing buildings and monuments.

Why? Because we’ve just been going through a collective reimagining of what we want the monuments and buildings around us to represent—and what we don’t.

4. An Epic of Earth and Water: Clare Leighton and the New England Industries Series

Halloween doesn’t mean just pumpkins and candy. On October 31, this exhibit of twelve wood engravings Leighton created for Wedgewood will open. This is a new collection for the BMA, and the engravings depict twelve industries that represent the heart and soul of New England.

Perfect for if you want to pretend like you’ve gone somewhere new without actually going on vacation.

5. Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle​

Jacob Lawrence, Birmingham Museum of Art
Panel 10, 1954, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 2003.414. © The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by The Metropolitan Museum of Art  

Just before Thanksgiving 2020, you’ll be able to stop by the BMA for this exhibit which is currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

November 20, this landmark exhibition of iconic American Modernist painter Jacob Lawrence, opens at the BMA.

For the first time in more than 50 years, it reunited Lawrence’s Struggle series—the series depicts US history from the American Revolution to World War I and captures, in the artist’s words, “the struggles of a people to create a nation and their attempt to build a democracy.”

What the BMA is doing to keep everybody safe

Together with local, state and federal officials, the BMA will taking the following steps to make sure everybody stays safe:

  • The Museum won’t ever be more than 50% full.
  • All staff and visitors over age 2 are required to wear masks.
  • Daily deep cleaning will keep everything sparkling and safe.
  • High-touch areas will be cleaned multiple times a day.
  • Interactive exhibits requiring touch will be closed.
  • Visuals in high-traffic areas will help people keep physical distance.
  • Hands-free sanitizer stations throughout the building will help keep hands clean.

Now tell us, Birmingham, what are you most excited to see at the BMA? Tag us on social @bhamnow and let us know!