Birmingham Education

Birmingham City Council Museum Collections Centre – Dollman Street

Museum Collection Racking

Museum Collection Racking

As you would expect, over the years Birmingham City Council has built up some ‘overspill’ from its museums that it needed to put into storage.  However, with the closure of the Birmingham Museum of Science and Industry in 1997, considerable storage space was required for a large proportion of its exhibits as only some made the transfer to the Science Museum at ThinkTank: the 1.5 hectare warehousing centre on Dollman Street, Nechells, serves this purpose.

Whilst I opine the loss of the Museum of Science and Industry elsewhere on this site it is of some comfort to know that the exhibits once displayed there are at least in good order and stored as opposed to having been sold off. However, it is not quite apparent what they are being stored for as the Centre isn’t open to the public – only on two days per year – and the Council have made it abundantly clear that a dedicated industrial museum is not a worthwhile use of taxpayer’s money: although I’m sure most of us could think of far less worthy causes that do well from the Council’s coffers!

That said, the Museum Collections Centre contains some real gems and for anyone who remembers the old Museum of Science and Industry, a good deal of memories will be jogged whilst walking around it’s rackings and viewing its vehicles collection – my particular favourite being an electric refuse truck from the 1960s (see below) which, for some reason, caught my imagination as a small boy.

It also needs to be borne in mind that whilst the overwhelming majority of items stored there are from the old Museum of Science and Industry, there are exhibits from the Art Gallery and Natural History Museum here too: a significant porcelain collection is housed here – some items dating back several thousand years BC – along with a shoe collection, a toy collection and various other items and artifacts from various historical periods.

Whilst the Centre is a fascinating Aladdin’s Cave of exhibits and industrial and scientific history, it does beggar the question as to why it’s all locked away out of the public’s view: surely its content belongs to the people of Birmingham and we pay for the Centre’s upkeep and staffing: wouldn’t it be better to make it publicly accessible – even charge a small fee for entry (as opposed to a large one at ThinkTank) – and let people enjoy what’s there? Come on Birmingham City Council, I know you seem to actively pursue a policy of erasing and hiding all traces of Birmingham’s industrial past but surely it’s what made Birmingham what it is and should be celebrated and promoted as a significant part of our regional heritage, not locked away in a warehouse!


2 comments for “Birmingham City Council Museum Collections Centre – Dollman Street”

  1. Dear Andy.

    I am editor of the MASCOT – magazine of the Association of Singer Car Owners, and have been sent a picture of a 1922 Singer car reg no E 7319 that the sender recalls having seen in a Birmingham Museum 20 or so years ago, but which hasn’t been seen since.

    I have carried out a ‘Vehicle Check’ on the DVLA database and the car is registered with them, so presumably it is still in existance. According to their records it is Maroon in colour.

    I would be grateful if you would advise if the car is among the items stored at the Museum Collections Centre.

    The car is the only known survivor of its type, and we agree with you that if at all possible it should be available for the general
    public to see.

    Thank you,

    Yours sincerely, Mike Hyman, for the Association of Singer Car Owners

    Posted by Michael Hyman | October 19, 2009, 8:57 pm
  2. Hi Mike – thanks for the message.

    Unfortunately, I can’t say if the Singer is among the collection as I’m not connected with the Museum in any way – just an enthusiast like yourself. However, I’m sure that Birmingham City Council would be able to help you if you contacted their Museums Dept via the Council website.

    Posted by Andy Doherty | October 20, 2009, 12:44 am

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