World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Barber Institute of Fine Arts

Article Id: WHEBN0000734567
Reproduction Date:

Title: Barber Institute of Fine Arts  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: University of Birmingham, Jami Masjid and Islamic Centre Birmingham, Chinese Pagoda, Northfield Manor House, Darul Barakaat Mosque
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Barber Institute of Fine Arts

Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Established 1932
Location Edgbaston, Birmingham
Director Nicola Kalinsky
The Barber Institute of Fine Arts is an art gallery and concert hall in Birmingham, England. It is situated in purpose-built premises on the campus of the University of Birmingham.

The Grade II listed Art Deco building[1] was designed by Robert Atkinson in the 1930s and opened in 1939 by Queen Mary. The first building to be purpose-built for the study of art history in the United Kingdom, it was described by architectural historian Sir John Summerson as representing "better than almost any other building (except, perhaps the RIBA in Portland Place) the spirit of English architecture in the 1930s."[2] The layout of the museum is centred on a central concert hall which is surrounded by lecture halls, offices and libraries on the ground floor and art galleries on the first floor.

In the 2005, Penguin Books publication Britain's Best Museums and Galleries, the Barber Institute was one of only five galleries outside London to receive five stars for having "Outstanding collections of international significance" (the others were the National Gallery of Scotland, Oxford University's Ashmolean Museum, Cambridge University's Fitzwilliam Museum and the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool).[3]

Location and history

The Barber Concert Hall

The Institute is located 5 km southwest of the city centre at the East Gate of the university campus and has one of the most outstanding collections of art assembled in Britain in the 20th century, including works by Gwen John, André Derain, Fernand Léger, René Magritte and Egon Schiele. It was set up by Martha Constance Hattie Barber in memory of her husband Sir William Henry Barber, a wealthy property developer and solicitor who made his fortune expanding Birmingham's sprawling suburbs. Lady Barber was a descendant of the old Birmingham family of Bellowsmakers known as Onions and was an heiress in her own right.

Interior of the gallery

By his mid-thirties, the couple had retired but their connections with the city remained strong. In 1924, William Henry Barber received a baronetcy for 'Political Services to Birmingham'.

He died three years later. Lady Barber decided to make a permanent contribution to the city in his memory. In 1932, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts was established, and was bequeathed to the University 'for the study and encouragement of art and music'. Lady Barber died 4 months later leaving all of her assets to the trustees of the Institute. This money was used to expand the collection and fund the construction of a new building. In order to ensure that only artworks of the highest quality were bought for the Barber Institute, its founding trust deed stipulated that all purchases should be 'of that standard of quality as required by the National Gallery and the Wallace Collection'.

The founding Director (from 1935–1952) was Thomas Bodkin, who acquired the nucleus of the collection described by The Observer as "the last great art collection of the twentieth century".[4] Bodkin's successor was Professor Ellis Waterhouse who served from 1952–1970. The current Director of the Barber is Nicola Kalinsky, previously Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, National Galleries of Scotland. She joins the Barber in the midst of its 80th anniversary programme and will lead the Barber as it hones plans for a major redevelopment of its building.


Nicolas Poussin, Tancred and Erminia (c.1634), Oil on canvas
The collection is full of famous works by artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso and Rembrandt, displayed in spacious and elegant galleries on the first floor of the Institute. The Renaissance is represented by masterpieces by Giovanni Bellini, Veronese and Simone Martini (e.g. his St John the Evangelist of 1320), the 17th century by Rubens, Van Dyck, Poussin and Murillo.

The collections of French George I, the oldest public sculpture in Birmingham. In 2013 the gallery acquired an important late work by Sir Joshua Reynolds: Maria Marow Gideon (1767–1834) and her Brother William (1775–1805)

The institute also has one of the world's largest coin collections, especially of Roman and Byzantine coins. This outstanding collection was supplemented in 1967 with 15,000 coins, from Phillip Whitting and Geoffrey Haines. Many concerts take place at the Barber throughout the year, as well as a music festival which is held in June.

860 items of the Shaw-Hellier collection are held at the Barber's music library, though not the Hellier Stradivarius.[5]

Major works


  • Barber Institute was 'Gallery of the Year' in 2004
  1. ^  
  2. ^ Spencer-Longhurst, Paul (2004). "Atkinson, Robert (1883–1952)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2010-12-31. 
  3. ^ Fisher, Mark Britain's Best Museums and Galleries: From the Greatest Collections to the Smallest Curiosities, Penguin Books, 2005 ISBN 0-14-101960-3
  4. ^ "The Barber Institute of Fine Arts". Museums Gateway U21.  
  5. ^ Volume 57, Number 3, March 2001. E-ISSN: 1534-150X Print ISSN: 0027-4380. doi:10.1353/not.2001.0030. A Catalogue of the Shaw-Hellier Collection in the Music Library, Barber Institute of Fine Arts, The University of Birmingham (review by David Hunter) Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association - Volume 57, Number 3, March 2001, pp. 610-611

External links

  • Official website
  • Your Icons Highlights from the Barber Institute collection

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.