Charming interactive museum that’s dedicated to Birmingham’s once-prosperous steel pen industry
Sure, it might not sound like the most exciting of locations, but Birmingham’s Pen Museum is more than just a collection of writing implements. Sitting in the Jewellery Quarter’s historic listed Argent Centre (once a pen factory itself), this beautifully British museum is actually a tribute to the city’s once burgeoning steel pen trade. It delves into the surprisingly multifaceted history of the dip pen, and looks at other forms of writing – including typewriting and Braille – and there are even regular calligraphy lessons to be found.
The complete antithesis of sterile museums that keep all their exhibits behind glass, interactivity is encouraged – especially in the Victorian schoolroom section – and the esoteric, slightly cramped environment is a large part of the Pen Museum’s charm. The volunteers who give tours transpose their own passion for a seemingly niche topic to any visitors who come through the door, doling out fascinating stories, including the fact that Rip Van Winkle was actually written by Washington Irving while he was in Birmingham. Entry is free but donations can be made upon leaving to help keep the place running. Such is the infectious enthusiasm for everything pen related, you’ll leave the museum irritated by how the humble ballpoint pen destroyed one of Birmingham’s most prosperous industries. Damn you, Biro!
|Venue name:||The Pen Museum||Contact:|
The Argent Centre, 60 Frederick Street