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About Birmingham Museums

In April 2012, Birmingham Museums and Art Galley joined forces with Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum to form the UK’s largest independent museums trust. 

This new city wide trust means that visitors to all venues can take advantage of even more educational and entertaining events and activities, ranging from arts and crafts to history and culture from around the world. 

About the Trust 

Birmingham Museums is now responsible for governing and managing the museum sites and collections owned by Birmingham City Council, including Aston Hall, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Blakesley Hall, Museum Collections Centre, Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, Sarehole Mill, Soho House, Thinktank and Weoley Castle. The new independent organisation is focused on sustaining and developing key partnerships within the city and beyond, in order to deliver high quality, audience focussed museum services, and meet the needs of Birmingham communities as well as its wider audiences.


Steve Freer, Chairman 

Steve was born and educated in Birmingham. A chartered public finance accountant, he began his career in the City Council (1970-88) and was responsible for the City's grant funding of the arts during a period of significant investment in the mid 1980s. Steve also acted as project manager of the development of Paradise Circus, which created Adrian Boult Hall and the Josiah Mason Lecture Theatre. 

Len Clark

Len Clark is an experienced local politician with 35 years service and was an elected member of various significant public authorities including former West Midlands County Council (1977-1986); Severn Trent Water Authority (1977-1984), Birmingham City Council (1992-1996 and 2004-2011), West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority, and West Midlands Districts Superannuation Committee. With a longstanding interest in the cultural development of the City and region, as Chairman of Thinktank, Birmingham’s Science Museum (2004-2012), he has lead and supported major development initiatives including the Planetarium and the exciting new Science Garden, the first in the UK. Len was interim Chairman of the Trust until Steve Freer's appointment in 2013.


Ian Grosvenor

Ian is Professor of Urban Educational History and Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor for Cultural Engagement at the University of Birmingham. Ian has a longstanding interest in history and has been actively involved in local history projects including curating the ‘Children’s Lives’ exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in 2012. He was also co-convenor of Black Pasts, Birmingham Futures 1999-2008.He is author of numerous articles and books on the history of education and childhood. He is the current chair of the Friends of Birmingham Archives and Heritage, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a member of the West Midlands Regional Committee of the Heritage Lottery Fund.


Mohammed Rahman

Mohammed is a Partner within KPMG’s Corporates Risk Consulting practice, responsible for IT Audit and Advisory services to a number of KPMG’s global clients. Mohammed is also the UK head of ENR (Energy and National Resources) for Risk Consulting.  He has been working in Risk Consulting for 25 years with experience in both Europe and the US and is a qualified Chartered Accountant.  His key skill is managing the IT risk faced by global organisations, especially around major ERP roll outs and when these systems de-stabilise a business. 


Councillor Muhammad Afzal

Cllr Afzal was first elected to the City Council in 1982 and has held many senior roles in Birmingham City Council as Chair of Committees and has particularly concentrated on Human Resources and appointment systems.


Graham Allen

Born and educated in Birmingham, Graham has over 20 years’ experience working as a senior manager within Museums, from 1994 to 2004 he was Head of Birmingham Museums Service. Whilst Head of Birmingham Museums; he undertook the final stage of the development of Soho House and its opening, initiated the creation of Thinktank at Millennium Point, the redevelopment of Blakesley Hall, the creation of the Museum’s Collection Centre, the development of the Waterhall, and the initial stages of the redevelopment of Aston Hall. Graham was a Trustee of Thinktank Trust 2005 to 2012 and from 2010 has assisted and supported the creation of Birmingham Museums Trust. 


Penelope, Viscountess Cobham

Lady Cobham has been Chairman of VisitEngland since 2009. She served on the boards of the English Tourist Board, English Heritage, the Countryside Commission and Historic Royal Palaces before moving to act as the Special Adviser on tourism and heritage in the newly created Department of National Heritage in 1992. Subsequently, she was appointed to the boards of the Victoria & Albert Museum, British Waterways and the London Docklands Development Corporation, where she led on tourism. She was Deputy Chairman of VisitBritain from 2005 to 2009 and was a board member for Thinktank Trust from 1999 to 2012. 


Deborah de Haes

Debby is an independent management consultant who set up her own business six years ago after nearly ten years in a global management consultancy firm. She specialises in two key areas: NHS Trust Board Governance issues (behaviour and process), and Museums’ skills evaluation and development. Her work is focused on helping organisations maintain and improve effectiveness in times of major transition. Debby is from Birmingham and studied History at Oxford. She worked in Birmingham for many years and is currently Chair of the Friends of Birmingham Museums. She is also a Bishops’ Inspector for Theological Training in the Church of England, particularly in the areas of finance and governance.


Sir Mark Jones

Mark Jones is the Master of St Cross College, Oxford and was Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum from 2001 to 2011. His time there saw a ten year, £120 million programme of renewal of the museum and its displays which transformed two thirds of its vast building. From 1992 to 2001 he was Director of the National Museums of Scotland, overseeing the opening of the award-winning Museum of Scotland in 1998. He read philosophy, Politics and Economics at Worcester College, Oxford and studied for his MA at the Courtauld Institute of Art. He was Assistant Keeper of Coins and Medals, British Museum (1974 to 1990) and Keeper of Coins and Medals, British Museum (1990 to 1992). Mark serves on the boards of the Pilgrim Trust (since 2006), the National Trust (since 2005), Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, and the Design Council (since 2011).  


David Lewis

David Lewis graduated from London University in 1959 and qualified as a Chartered Surveyor in 1961. He formed his own firm of Chartered Surveyors in 1964 and has held a number of public company positions in the UK. He was Managing Director of Cavendish Land Company to 1973 and of Hampton Trust plc to 1987, and from 1989 to 1995 was Chairman of Molyneux Estates plc. He is Chairman of various privately controlled investment companies and his family interests include a wide-ranging collection of works of art of which a significant proportion is on loan to public bodies, museums and institutions in the UK and abroad. He was a founder Governor of the Harris City Technology College, Croydon 1990 to 2009. He is Deputy Chairman of the Board of the London Jewish Cultural Centre and he is also Co-chair of the Commission for Looted Art in Europe. He is a member of the Board of the Jewish Museum.


Jan Teo 

Jan Teo is a Director at Deutsche Bank and Chief Operating Officer for Service Centre operations in Europe and is based in Birmingham. Jan studied history at Cambridge University, and has twenty years commercial experience in a wide variety of operational and transformational roles having formerly held senior leadership positions at companies such as Legal and General, Barclays Bank, RAC Motoring Services, and Lex Transfleet. Jan’s career allows her to draw on extensive experience in leading large volumes of people through times of significant change and growth. Jan has worked with Fierce Earth, at the Birmingham Hippodrome, and champions the benefits of true diversity in arts businesses. She has also been mentoring sixth form students from Aston Manor School.