The Last of England is a first for the Barber

Visitors this New Year will be greeted by three of the greatest paintings from the collection usually on display at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The trio of internationally significant masterpieces have been lent by Birmingham Museums Trust for a two-year period to the Barber – where they will hang among our own collection. The … Read more

Masterpieces on loan

Three scintillating and very different paintings are now on display at the Barber for the first time in a series of swaps with other top UK galleries. Mares and Foals in a River Landscape by the eminent English animal painter George Stubbs (1724 – 1806) – and The Capella Nuova outside the Porta di Chiara, a … Read more

Reclaiming the Foxglove

A revelatory project undertaken by the Barber and the University’s College of Medical and Dental Sciences has explored the fascinating part played by women in the hidden history of a common wild plant – and its role in the treatment of heart disease. Reclaiming the Foxglove is the first instalment of an ongoing partnership between … Read more


The Barber’s first physical exhibition since reopening the museum in May is proving a hit with visitors and critics – thanks to the ten postgraduate students who curated the show entirely during lockdown. The Daily Telegraph’s chief art critic, Alastair Sooke, gave Making a Mark – which explores the crucial role of drawing in the … Read more

The Barber is Grade 1 Listed

The Barber – once described as ‘the perfect place to contemplate art’ – has been awarded the highest heritage honour: Grade 1-listed building status. Historic England’s new web listing – an upgrading from Grade 2 praises the Barber as ‘a building of exquisite architectural quality’, recognising ‘the sophisticated design which follows logically from its plan, … Read more


The elegant Art Deco design of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts inspires six major new paintings by Tess Jaray, RA. One of Britain’s most distinguished and influential painters and printmakers, Jaray works in the abstract tradition, and her contemplations on form and colour have been inspired by architecture for more than 50 years. These meditative … Read more

Drawing Out the Sound

Representations of Music in Art How can sound be evoked in a drawing? Can a work of art sing? Throughout history, artists have been fascinated with depicting music, grappling with the challenge of conjuring sound through a silent and visual medium. In this display, prints and drawings from the 15th to the 20th century allow … Read more

Become a Member of the Barber Association

Become a Member Join our community of like-minded art- and music-lovers and gain exclusive access to our collection through a programme of special events, talks and tours. Your membership subscription will help fund vital sector training through paid internships, supporting our ambition to bring art and music to ever wider audiences. In recognition of your … Read more

Learn more about the Barber Association

The Barber Association Lady Barber’s dream was to found an arts institute for the University of Birmingham – a gallery and concert hall to be used ‘in perpetuity for the study and encouragement of art and music’.  Its art collection should be ‘of that standard of quality required by the National Gallery and the Wallace … Read more


A number of the Barber Institute’s strategic and operational policies are available for you to read and can be downloaded from this page: Access Statement Borrowing Procedures Collections Management Plan Exhibition Policy General Emergency Evacuation Plan (GEEP)* Venue Hire Policy Due Diligence Policy for Loans Volunteer Policy  Feedback Policy Privacy Notice Safeguarding Policy Online Safeguarding … Read more

Love, Life & Landscapes

German Romantic Prints and Drawings from the Barber’s Collection Inspired by their native landscape, mythology and history, 19th-century German Romantic artists were fascinated with the themes of nature, love and the fragility of life. This display explores the motives behind the fantastical imagery of some of the best known exponents, including Carl Wilhelm Kolbe, Adrian … Read more

From ‘Red’ Ellen to Oswald Mosley

Portraits of Inter-War Politicians by Edmund Kapp The 2015 General Election might one day be regarded as one of the most unpredictable and intriguing of this century. But politics a hundred years ago was no less fascinating – and the politicians of the day arguably a good deal more colourful. This display features portrait drawings … Read more

The Modernist Face

Smith, Dobson & British Portraiture 1920-60 A snapshot through the lens of Modernism, this fascinating exhibition explores and juxtaposes the work of two under-appreciated British artists: sculptor Frank Dobson and painter Matthew Smith. Discussing the dynamic relationshop between sitter and artist within the broader cultural context of the period, it features such celebrated contributors to … Read more

Gods & Heroes

Epic ambitions underpin this display inspired by Hercules and Caucus, the magnificent chiaroscuro woodcut by Hendrick Goltzius, recently acquired for the gallery. Gods and Heroes includes prints after Titian, Michelangelo and Rubens, featuring subjects drawn from both ancient mythology and the Judo-Christian tradition. It seeks to uncover the methods and motives behind the representation of … Read more


The frivolous and extravagant fashions of the Ancien Regime were brought to a swift and bloody end at the onset of the French Revolution in 1789. In the ensuing years, a taste for simpler, classically inspired clothing migrated across from Revolutionary France into Britain. This display explores the depiction of fashionable dress in an array … Read more

Inheriting Rome

The Imperial Legacy in Coinage and Culture Look at one of the coins you’re carrying today: you’ll see the Queen’s portrait facing right and Latin script around the royal head. It seems our coins have looked this way forever – and that’s nearly true. But why? This exhibition uses money to explore and question our deep-seated familiarity with the Roman Empire’s imagery. Britain is … Read more

New Art West Midlands

Voyeurism, idolatry, the transience of life and orange-phobia are among the diverse subjects and themes explored in this year’s New Art West Midlands. Created in a wide range of media – including oil, acrylic, photography , found objects, textiles and boiled sweets – this multi-site, selective award exhibition showcases work by emerging local artists. The … Read more

‘Degenerate’ Art

German Expressionist Prints from the Barber’s Collection A society fractured by conflict – and poised on the brink of further social unrest – is depicted with brutal honesty in these striking early 20th-century prints by celebrated artists including Max Beckmann, George Grosz and Egon Schiele. Complementing Rebel Visions, this display also explored the changing social … Read more

The Naked & The Nude

Works on Paper from the Barber’s Collection The naked body has inspired some of the greatest works of art, and the study of it was long regarded as vital to demonstrate artistic mastery in representing both the ideal and the everyday. Intended to add context to Zoffany’s fascinating painting, A Life Class, currently on loan … Read more

Rebel Visions

The War Art of CRW Nevinson The powerful art and contradictory personality of British war artist Richard Nevinson will be explored in this ground breaking exhibition – the centrepiece of our autumn programme. Famous for his dramatic, often haunting images of the battlefield and its soldiers, Nevinson’s arresting paintings, drawing, prints and posters also acknowledged … Read more

What our visitors say…

The Barber ranks among the most popular visitor attractions in Birmingham on TripAdvisor. Here are some of the great things our visitors have been saying about us on there: Fine art to rival any London Gallery: The Barber is a wonderful gallery packed with treasures from every major genre of art. The gallery spaces are beautifully laid … Read more


Portrait Prints from the Barber’s Collection Featuring stunning works by Rembrandt, Goya, Cezanne and Picasso, this display spans four centuries of portrait printmaking. It explores the different compositional approaches, styles and techniques adopted by artists that contribute to an evolving dialogue about the purpose and practice of portraiture. Organized to complement the exhibition ‘Lasting Impressions‘, … Read more

A River Runs Through It

Works on Paper from the Barber’s Collection To coincide with this summer’s display of 17th-century seascapes, this selection of works on paper travels upstream to highlight the importance of rivers in everyday life. Featuring prints and drawings by, or after, artists such as Wenceslas Hollar, Turner, Whistler and Max Klinger, the display explored themes of … Read more

Lasting Impressions

20th-century Portrait Prints From etchings to a plasticine print, Lasting Impressions brings together works that document the renaissance of the portrait print from the early 20th century to the present day. By the late 1800s, printmaking had undergone such monumental technological changes that its status had sunk to that of mere reproduction. However, in response, … Read more


This on-line display was curated by Emily Keppel, a Cultural Materials Conservation Masters student at the University of Melbourne, Australia, who received the U21 Student Museums & Collections Award for 2014, and to whom we are most grateful. In a partnership between the Universities of Birmingham and Melbourne, she worked on a range of collection … Read more


The Turkmen states of medieval Anatolia (11th-14th centuries) ruled areas which had formerly been under Byzantine governance. Though the Turkmen leaders and many of their troops were Muslim, there were also large Christian and Jewish populations living in the areas under their rule. Their coinage is remarkable for its blending of Christian and Muslim imagery … Read more


Prior to the rise of Islam in the seventh century, the power which most effectively matched the Byzantine Empire in the east was the Sasanian Persian Empire, based around the areas of modern Iran and Iraq, and centred on its capital city of Ktesiphon, near modern Baghdad. In comparison to the Byzantine Empire, little is … Read more


British coinage in the Barber collection begins in the first century BC with coins produced in the Channel Islands, under the influence of Continental models. By the first century AD local rulers were producing coins with clear Roman influences, until Britain was largely brought under Roman rule. From the mid first century A.D. until 410 … Read more

Merovingian and Burgundian

The Merovingians and Burgundians ruled areas of modern France and Italy in the immediately post-Roman period of western European history (from the fifth century). Although the rulers of these groups traced their lineage to mobile Germanic-speaking people who had migrated from the north and east their models of government were overwhelmingly Roman. They took over … Read more

Western Medieval

The Barber Institute collection of western medieval coins is small but contains some fine examples of Visigothic, Vandal, Merovingian and Burgundian coins, Lombard and Norman issues, a selection of British coins charting the development of British coinage from the pre-Roman to the modern period, and an important collection of coins of the Crusader states.