Children’s Lives exhibition

By on 22/03/2012 in Culture, News
  • Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
  • Dates: 24 March - 10 June 2012

Children's Lives will be the first exhibition in the UK to trace the changing nature of childhood from the 18th century to the present day, through fine art, photography, film, objects, toys, sound archives and documentary sources.  The exhibition and related activities are made possible by a grant of £49,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).  Much of the material featured in the exhibition has never previously been displayed.

The exhibition will feature works by nationally and internationally celebrated artists: Reynolds, Gainsborough, Rossetti, Millais, Watts, Munch, Picasso and Rego, Bill Brandt's documentary photography of the 1930s and 40s commissioned by the Cadbury family, and Nick Hedges' powerful photographs for SHELTER in the late 70s.

Children's Lives will explore the relationships of children with their families and peers, the experiences of children in school, at work, during wartime, and in the hands of various welfare institutions, as well as the ways children have imagined the world. There will be a focus on children 'on the move' including refugees and evacuees, also featuring Middlemore Homes, which sent more than 6000 children to Canada and Australia between1874 and World War II.

Children's Lives will draw on the nationally acclaimed collections of archives, paintings, artefacts, oral histories and film material relating to the lives of children held by Birmingham Archives & Heritage (BA&H), Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG) and the Media Archive of Central England (MACE).

The exhibition will be accompanied by the creation of a website which will make this material available online for the first time and provide a lasting legacy for the project.

Children's Lives aims to bring the voice of the child out of the archive and the museum collections and draw the connections between the past and the present into sharper focus. It will also show how the world of the child has been constructed by adults.

The final part of the exhibition will be curated by young people from two local secondary schools who will create their own responses to past children's experiences and present their own stories of what it is to be young in the 21st century, creating their own archive through film and oral history.

The exhibition is curated by Ian Grosvenor and Sian Roberts. Ian Grosvenor is Professor of Urban Educational History and Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor for Cultural Engagement at the University of Birmingham, and author of numerous articles and books on racism, education and identity. Sian Roberts is Head of Collections Development for Birmingham Libraries & Archives.

Notes to Editors

Heritage Lottery Fund
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, the Fund invests in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported 30,000 projects, allocating £4.7billion across the UK.

Exhibition Curators
Ian Grosvenor, as an historian of education, has researched widely into schooling and the education system but over the last decade has focused increasingly in trying to understand the experiences of children in institutions in the past and how children have been represented.

As well as working as Head of Archives Collections at Birmingham for over ten years Sian Roberts has researched the experiences of children displaced by war and children in care.

Exhibition Details

Children's Lives (Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery)

  • Dates:   24 March - 10 June 2012
  • Location: Gas Hall, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG), Chamberlain Square, Birmingham, B3 3DH
  • Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday, Saturday: 10.00 – 17.00
    Friday: 10.30 – 17.00
    Sunday: 12.30 – 17.00
  • Web:

    Admission charges: Adult  £4.00, Concession £3.00, Children aged 5-16 £2.00, Family £10.00, Unwaged £2.00

  • For General Enquiries (tickets etc) contact no. 0121 303 1966

Press Contact: for more information, images and interviews, please contact: Kate Burvill   E: ,   T: 020 7226 7824    M: 07947 754 717

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