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  • Birmingham Museum of ArtBirmingham Museum of Art Alabama
    The Birmingham Museum of Art in Birmingham, Alabama started in 1951, and has blossomed into the best art museum in the southeastern United States, containing over 24,000 works of art. These drawings, sculptures, paintings, decorative arts and prints represent various cultures that include Pre-Columbian, European, Native American, American, Asian and African relics. One of the features of this magnificent collection is the Asian artworks that is believed to be the best and most complete in the southeast, with their Vietnamese ceramics collection the finest in the United States. It is also home to the exciting Kress Collection of Baroque and Renaissance sculpture, decorative arts and paintings spanning the 13th century to around 1750, while the excellent 18th century European decorative arts collection contains many wonderful examples of French furniture and English ceramics. The museum is owned and run by the city, sitting on 3.9 prime acres in the center of the cultural district. The current building that houses this marvelous museum was built in 1959 and designed by Warren, Knight and Davis; with a major restructuring in 1993 by Edward Larrabee Barnes of New York and now is 180,000 square feet that contains an outdoor sculpture garden area. Some of the main features of the permanent collection include; from the African art exhibits almost 2000 objects that came from the sub-Saharan Africa region and dates back to the 12th century to the current period, which includes outstanding examples of furniture, sculpture, masks, ritual objects, household and utilitarian items, ceramics, textiles, and metal arts that contain a Yoruba mask, Benin bronze hip pendant, an Egyptian false door and divination portrait of a king from Dahomey. The American collection contains relics from the late 18th century to the mid 20th century with paintings by Georgia O'Keefe, Gilbert Stuart and Childe Hassam, sculptures by Frederic Remington and Hiram Powers, decorative arts items by Tiffany and Frank Lloyd Wright and various works on paper. The masterpiece, Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California by Bierstadt, was picked by the National Endowment for the Humanities as one of the 40 American masterpieces that best show the events, places and people that helped shape our country and tell our story; as well as being thought of as one of the three most prominent landscape paintings of our nation.  The Asian collection is equally represented with beautiful works that began with a single gift of Chinese textiles back in 1951, and now contains over 4000 works that do include the Vietnamese ceramics reputed to be the best in the country; as well as a rare Ming Dynasty temple wall and Tang Dynasty tomb figures from China. This museum is the only gallery that contains Korean art in the entire southeast and the Smithsonian Institution has loaned the Vetlesen Jade Collection with 16th to 19th century items that happens to be the most prominent jade collection in the country today. The contemporary art collection contains video, photography, works on paper, paintings, installation art and sculptures from the 1960s to the current day; as well as a marvelous folk art collection. The European art collection includes the Kress Collection of Renaissance art that contains decorative arts, sculptures and paintings that are dated back to the 13th century and go until 1750. The European decorative arts collection is considered to be one of the foundations of the museum's permanent collection that contain over 12,000 items that have glass, ceramics and furniture from the Renaissance period to today. Among this fantastic collection is the Eugenia Woodward Hitt Collection of 18th century French art that includes furniture from the Louis XIV, XV and XVI eras, mounted porcelain, works on paper from the Regence, paintings and gilt bronzes; and the Dwight and Lucille Beeson Wedgwood Collection is the best that exists outside of England, having over 1400 pieces of the complete production of the Wedgwood factory from its start to the 19th century. The Pre-Columbian collection is nothing short of spectacular, and the Charles W. Ireland Sculpture garden rounds out the exterior to make this fabulous museum the stunning institution it is today.

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  • Birmingham Civil Rights InstituteBirmingham Civil Rights Institute Alabama
    The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a big wonderful interpretive museum and research facility in Birmingham, Alabama that describes the immense struggles of the American Civil Rights Movement that occurred during the 1950s and 1960s that tore this country apart, almost as badly and severely as the Civil War. The institute is found in the Civil Rights District; that includes the historical 16th Street Baptist Church, Fourth Avenue Business District, Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame inside the Carver Theatre and Kelly Ingram Park. Opening in November of 1992, they welcomed over 25,000 visitors in the first week. Another venue for the institute is the showing of the city's pride, dedication and unity for its history, progress and future; which perhaps isn't solely this city's, but the entire country that became involved in the bloodiest and most tumultuous period in our short history. The institute features a marvelous walking journey through a living history that exhibits the numerous lessons of the past in such a positive way that new directions are shown for the future of our country and the wonderful people that continue to make it free for all. The permanent displays have become a self directed exploration through the city's contributions to the movement and other human rights endeavors. Many multimedia displays showcase the history of the African-American life and their struggles for unalienable civil rights and liberties. One of these exhibits is the Oral History Project that documents the city's role in the Civil Rights movement via the very voices of those that took part in the movement. The archives have become a national resource for the country's researchers and educators; as well as a repository for the continued collection and preservation of the documents and relics of the movement. This archive is computer-linked to the Birmingham Public Library that has become one of the vital links to the Archives Division. The institute has also become a community resource for workshops, seminars and meetings, with the meeting room available to all.

January 11, 2011