Saturday, 10 July 2010

Where's the history?

Birmingham's might be an impressive combination of Victorian grandeur and modern architecture - as above at the Town Hall - but, as far as I can see, it would much rather think about shopping than history.
The canals and the boats that ply them are an entertaining backdrop for waterside bars and flats but you'll find precious little information for the tourists about why they are there: no statues of Brindley and Telford; few meaningful information boards. Even the official 'Welcome to Birmingham' booklet dismisses them as "said to be the motorways of industry".
The wonderful building that houses Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery turned out actually to be almost entirely an art gallery (and a fine one at that with wonderful pre-Raphaelite paintings). Where was the story of all of Birmingham's great history being told? Not there as far as I could see.
Maybe the answer is that the city isn't proud of its past - it wants to forget it and move forward. Perhaps it's embarrassed by the fact that its wealth came from the smoke and grime and graft of industry. Well if that's so, it's a damned shame.

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