UCE Art Department at Margaret Street to close, relocate

News reaches me from a trusted source that the UCE campus at Margaret Street (map), which houses the Art department of the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, is to close and the classes relocate.

The Wikipedia entry for the building tells us it was purpose built for the Birmingham School of Art in 1885 and has served as an art school ever since. UCE themselves describe it as “filled with light, airy studios ideal for the students based here.”

Speculation is, of course, just speculation but I suspect a combination of high property values and a desire to consolidate UCE in Eastside might come into play here. Whatever the reasons, good or bad, it’ll be a shame when after over 120 years the building stops being used for art.


  1. Pete Worrall

    Well, I suppose in the 21st century, there is little room for nostalgia….
    ….however after all those years of artistic prominence, it would be a tragedy to see the beautiful Grade 1 listed building turned into (yet more)trendy appartments.

    It should be preserved as a art museum for the Birmingham community.

  2. Steve

    I think whoever is responsible for this decision should remember that what looks good on a balance sheet today (and wins them a few brownie points career wise) is a short term gain only. It also brings into question their suitability for a job, which you would imagine requires more foresight than this decision indicates. They may feel they’re taking an unpopular but brave decision, necessary to the survival of the college. I have just two words to say in caution: John Birt.

  3. sue lilleman

    If the Fine Art department has to be moved to Perry Barr or Gosta Green for financial reasons, so be it, but please let’s fight for its survival as a museum or art gallery with a trendy cafe, like the Ikon

  4. Mike

    Do you really think that Fine Art could transcend and survive at Perry Barr? We are ruled by short sited accountants.

  5. Brian Lammas

    Who in their right mind is going to take away such a beautiful building from the general public, whats more the great history and prominence this building has in the tradition of Brithish art education at its best. Apartments you must be out of your crazy minds. Leave us some beautiful things in our environment, this is one of them.

  6. Jacqui

    I cannot believe this. Its the most amazing building and art space that has inspired generations of artists. It cannot be allowed to end. Where are the petitions and protest? I want to be part of it!

  7. This is a listed building,or not. both inside and out? where is the problem. were this an application by a member of the public,to alter this building in any way or use. there is only one answer.NO! Once altered no going back. surely they are not short of funds, for what-so-ever,they should be looking to promote it for furtherance of art, and take an interest in doing so.And promote some of the art, for sale and up-keep to-wards the building, try the 70.000£ fund for art gallery’s, and museums allocated for 2006 to 2008.and the lottery fund give aways.should be no problem, after all it was the current goverment in power that stopped the subside’s to the towns and city’s of this country way back, that caused the poll tax for tax payers in this country,that has lead up to fines for everything, breathing next. Leave well alone I would say. I rwemember the bull ring original and birmingham city meat market and fruit markets.03/07/2007

  8. helen

    As a current student at Margret st, i want to add that selling the building has nothing to do with giving future students better opportunities but an opportunity for UCE to cut costs, interesting, as tuition fees and student numbers are rising…

  9. joe

    helen is right this has nothing to do with benifiting students. the stupid thing is UCE will regret ever letting this building go in the long run as it was a key factor for many students to study there. look what they could be missing in the future. an art school like glassgow school of art that is full of history.

  10. still, at least if they turn it into apartments there isn’t any loud entertainment around for the people who move in to complain about…

    it’s not only stupid flogging off a historic building to move elsewhere (to somewhere which will no doubt have a shelf life of 40 years max, like the paradise circus complex), but also seems like a shocking waste of money given it seems like only in the last few years that uce spent an awful lot of money on renovating the building to make it even more effective as an art college than it was before.

    at least the proposed conservatoire (which again has had an awful lot of money spent on it over the last 15 years) move will be the result of a compulsory purchase order, so it won’t be quite such a waste.

  11. tim orton

    I was a student at Margaret St in the early 80’s. We had similar suggestions about the future of the building at the time. As I recall there was a stipulation that the building must be used for artistic per-possess attached to the building.

  12. Debbie

    Not only will Margaret Street being relocated but Bournville Centre for Visual Arts, which is where there are two beautiful buildings in the heart of Bournville village.
    Many years of students have completed their foundation course and completely enjoyed the experience and expertise of the staff who have taught them. Its a crying shame that the students from both buildings will have to merge with thousands more other students at either eastside or perry barr and will not benefit from getting what they consider is a valuable life experience, forget about the money and think about whats best
    for the students.

  13. John

    To reassure everybody and to end speculation, at present, as far as we are concerned working in the building, they are not going to sell the Margaret Street site. Certainly it has been a marketing and publicity blunder of spectacular proportions, seeminghly unaware of how strong the voice would be in protest, and how much the building is valued as a purpose built centre of creative practice. It would seem, however,that sense has prevailed.

  14. Michael Kilduff

    It is an unbelievably glorious art school and art as an activity of a civilised society was extolled by the Victorian city patrons who dedicated the school; one of the first provincial schools of art in Britain. I attended there and would like to see the building employed as an art museum extension. Visual arts in Britain and Europe has become more exciting in the last twenty years thanks to imaginative curatorship and large scale developments such as Tate Modern. Liverpool enjoys an extension of the Tate. So I think Birmingham deserves a more modern museum too. A lot of works simply are locked in museum basements. Well, Birmingham needs a new public attraction in it’s city center. It may also include fashion and photography, and also commercial design and arhitecture, craft history video installation and lots of travelling exhibitions can easily be hosted there. And also a cafeteria can be very easily fitted in as well as concert hall.

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