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Pen Museum, Birmingham

4.5
#9 of 27 in Museums in Birmingham
History Museum · Hidden Gem · Specialty Museum
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The Pen Museum is a museum in Birmingham, England, covering the history of Birmingham's steel pen trade. The only museum in the United Kingdom devoted to the history of the pen making industry, the Pen Museum explains how Birmingham became the centre of the world pen trade.

The museum is run by the Birmingham Pen Trade Heritage Association, which was established in 1996 as a registered charity and became a charitable incorporated organisation in 2018.

The museum is located in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter, at the Argent Centre. The Argent Centre itself used to house a pen factory and is a Grade II* listed building.

The museum was opened in April 2001, and in June 2002 the adjoining Philp Poole Room gallery opened. The new exhibition and shop area with new entrance to the museum opened in November 2016.

In the 19th century, around 100 companies distributed steel pens in Birmingham. The pen nibs produced were distributed worldwide, until the trade was overtaken by fountain pens and the ballpoint pen. The museum looks into the lives of the employers and workers involved in the business, as well as providing information on the pen companies. It also has information on how steel pen nibs were made and has pen nibs on display. Beyond the steel pen, the museum also aims to educate on other forms of writing equipment and on writing in general.

Information at the museum is given through displays and tours by volunteer guides, as well as through demonstrations and ‘hands on’ activities, such as writing with different kinds of pen, early typewriters and Braille machines, and making a pen nib using original factory presses. Entry to the museum is by admission.
The museum hosts workshops for family and community groups on various themes, talks on pen trade history and provides for research into genealogy.
To visit Pen Museum on your trip to Birmingham, use our Birmingham planner.
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Pen Museum reviews

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TripAdvisor
  • A fun and quirky museum, would highly recommend to visitors! It is not very well known to tourists but is sure to not disappoint. The highlight is the interactive pen nib making part-a rare hands on.....  more
    A fun and quirky museum, would highly recommend to visitors! It is not very well known to tourists but is sure to not disappoint. The highlight is the interactive pen nib making part-a rare hands on.....  more »
  • On a cold Saturday we visited this corner of fascinating history and spent almost 2 hours looking back at the history of what started with ink quills (and sharp knives) and evolved into glossy... 
    On a cold Saturday we visited this corner of fascinating history and spent almost 2 hours looking back at the history of what started with ink quills (and sharp knives) and evolved into glossy...  more »
Google
  • We visited the Pen Museum today and we loved it! It's a small museum but it has something for everyone. It is especially good if you have an interest in history. There are 3 rooms. The first one has a large collection of pens, pen nibs and other related objects. There are also lots and lots of interesting facts related to the history of pen making. They have a little quiz to complete if you are interested. In the second room you have the opportunity to watch a short video about the history of pens and then you can even have a go at making a pen nib yourself using a variety of machines! The third room has a few typewriters and a small table with some activities for children. You can have a go at calligraphy or typewriting if you want. The volunteers are all very friendly, knowledgeable and welcoming so I hope you enjoy the museum as much as we did!
  • Worth every penny, small but packed full of interesting displays. the staff are extremely friendly and Larry Hanks demonstration of the original nib making process was fantastic. Would recommend to anyone.

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