barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham

From the Director

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts is closed to the public until further notice to ensure the safety of all staff and visitors and as part of the national effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

People coming together to experience art and music in a shared space has always been core to the Barber’s purpose and although the doors are shut, our mission to provide learning and enrichment through the study and encouragement of art and music continues. The Barber team are working hard to create on-line resources which will provide opportunities for people to enjoy the Barber safely from home. We hope that these initiatives will appeal to existing visitors and also reach out to new audiences, wherever they may be, at a time when the importance of helping to sustain local communities runs in parallel to our sense that we are all citizens of one global world.  Please check this website and our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages for further information on the new content which will be rolled out in the coming weeks. In the meantime, there is a wealth of information on the Barber collection on this website, and most works can also be accessed on Art UK, a comprehensive showcase of the nation’s collections.

Our beautiful campus setting is also closed; but we are proud to be part of the University of Birmingham and encourage you to check out the University’s website for information on how the University of Birmingham’s researchers are contributing to the global effort to counter the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects. We are profoundly aware of the insignificance of our museum activities in comparison with such endeavours, but we believe that the arts can help sustain us in difficult times, promote wellbeing and foster an appreciation of our shared humanity. It is exactly 700 years since the Italian artist Simone Martini signed the little panel of ‘St John the Evangelist’, one of the Barber’s most moving works of art. Originally part of a portable triptych, it was used for personal devotion and contemplation, with the Easter crucifixion scene at its centre. Whatever our cultural inheritance, identities or interests as individuals, this painting offers a powerful meditation on suffering, empathy and renewal across the centuries.

The Barber team are working remotely and our office hours in this period may vary according to personal circumstances but please send your questions or comments to We’ll be getting in touch with our valued group of supporters, the Barber Association, by email to give updates on how membership will be affected by closure and please do get in touch for any queries specific to your membership at

We look forward to being ‘at home’ with you throughout this period and to welcoming visitors back to the Barber when we are safely the other side of the pandemic.

Very best wishes




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