What will you do for #MuseumWeek 2015 ?

The powers-that-be have declared this week as #MuseumWeek on twitter, and that’s great for us in Birmingham. Why? Because there’s no shortage of extraordinary museums in our fair city. When was the last time you’ve visited one of the area’s museums? If it’s been awhile, make plans to go this week. Use the list below to help narrow your choices (or just visit them all).

Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum
6030 Barber Motorsports Pkwy. 


Stop by Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum to check out their massive collections of motorcycles, racecars and Lotus cars. For $15 above the price of admission, you can sign up for the premium, docent-led tour. Tours are given Friday and Saturday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
520 Sixteenth Street North

Across the street from the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church sits the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.  According to its website, BCRI’s mission is “to enlighten each generation about civil and human rights by exploring our common past and working together in the present to build a better future.” You can take a self-directed tour that educates you on the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s as well as today’s fight for human rights. View photojournalist Spider Martin’s photos that chronicles 1965’s Selma to Montgomery march.

Photo credit: Spider Martin

Photo credit: Spider Martin

You can also catch “American Boricua: Puerto Rican Life in the United States,” a documentary project that takes a look at Puerto Rican life throughout all 50 states of the U.S. Click here for the museum’s daily admission rates.

Birmingham Museum of Art
2000 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd. 

Birmingham Museum of Art

Birmingham Museum of Art

The Birmingham Museum of Art has been in existence for almost 65 years. It’s a great place to view the galleries alone or bring the kids along to participate in the museum’s fun drop-in art programs and tours. On this Saturday (March 28) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., families can drop by to make an African necklace or bracelet with the museum’s mascot, Bart. Later that day (from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.), adults and teens can enjoy a public tour of BMA’s new exhibition “Small Treasures: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, and Their Contemporaries.” Tickets are free to BMA members and $12 for non-members.

McWane Science Center
200 29th Street North

If you have children, then chances are you’ve been to the McWane Science Center. But it may be time to visit again this week, on your own or with the kiddies in tow. The center was designed to foster a life-long love of learning for folks of all ages. In addition to the permanent exhibits, there’s the temporary exhibit “Mindbender Mansion,” where visitors can try to master brain teasers and more.


The center is also home to the city’s only IMAX cinema. Click here for general admission prices. 

Southern Museum of Flight
4343 73rd Street North

If you’ve never been to the Southern Museum of Flight, this is the week to find out what you’ve been missing. Located a stone’s throw away from Birmingham’s airport, the museum will open your eyes to the region’s rich aviation history. Right now the museum is featuring an exhibit on the Tuskegee Airmen called “Enduring Legacy.”

Tuskegee Airmen

Some of the other exhibits include “Korean War Jets,” Vietnam War Helicopters,” and the “Lake Murray B-25,” which features the aircraft that was recovered from the South Carolina lake in 2005. During WWII, the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) conducted exercises there. Contact the museum at 205-833-8226 for admission costs.

Vulcan Park and Museum
1701 Valley View Drive


Designed by Italian sculptor Giuseppe Moretti and cast from local iron in 1904, Vulcan, the world’s largest cast iron statue, is definitely the museum’s star. But a trip there should consist of more than just a visit to the observation deck. The museum offers a riveting look at events that helped shape Birmingham. Did you know that Ensley was once home to Little Italy? If you haven’t checked out “La Storia: Birmingham’s Italian Community,” visit the museum this week to learn more about early Italian residents. Click here for admission costs. 

Legendary broadcasters to discuss Birmingham’s golden age of radio

Doug Layton started his Birmingham radio career at WSGN, Birmingham’s first rock-and-roll station. From there he moved on to WYDE where he teamed up with Tommy Charles for Birmingham’s first “two-man” radio team. However, Layton may be best remembered for what took place in 1966 at WAQY, in which he was part owner. Layton participated in a Beatles’ boycott to protest John Lennon’s claim that the group was more popular than Jesus. In addition to banning their records, Layton and Charles asked listeners to send in their Beatles records and memorabilia to be included in a bonfire on August 19. The boycott garnered national attention and other stations, particularly in the south, followed suit.

Tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 21, Layton will participate in a panel discussion on Birmingham’s golden age of radio, along with Shelley Stewart, Bob Friedman and Courtney Haden at Vulcan Park and Museum. Greg Bass will moderate. A cash bar opens at 5:30 p.m. and the panel’s discussion will begin at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 if purchased in advanced online or $15 at the door.

In a year that’s filled with numerous nods to Birmingham history, Cristina Almanza, director of marketing and public relations at the park, says they want to offer a different perspective. “We are trying to unveil some historical aspect people may not be familiar with.” Tomorrow’s talk is the first of three events in the park’s 2013 “Birmingham Revealed” series. Music historian Bobby Horton headlines “Music, Migration, and Industrial Birmingham on March 21; the series will close on April 18 with “Crossing Lines: Birmingham and the Southern Conference for Human Welfare.” In 1938, the conference drew Eleanor Roosevelt, Hugo Black, Mary McLeod Bethune and Virginia Foster Durr to Birmingham to help bring the New Deal to the south.

See http://www.visitvulcan.com/eventInfo/BirminghamRevealed.html for more information.