Work Experience

The Pen Museum welcomes students for work experience at any time of the year at any stage of their academic career. If you would like to complete your work experience at the museum please contact Stacey Bagdi. We can offer a structured programme as well as tailor it depending on the schools/student’s own requirements. Recently three Year 11 students from Perry Beeches II the Free School in Birmingham joined us for a week. They thoroughly enjoyed their time with us and so did we!

Beverlie Weston, Community & Partnership Co-ordinator at Perry Beeches II the Free School commented on behalf of the student’s placed at the Museum.

“Perry Beeches II the Free School would like to express our sincere thanks to you and your team for accommodating Daniel Haughton, Wesley King and Danielle Van den Berg on their work experience.

The students have totally enjoyed the experience and kept a log of the activities they have carried out last week. They have commented on how they have been looked after really well, and treated like a member of the team. Also how they have gained experience within the world of work. None of this would have been possible without your help and support. Once again thank you for investing your time into our young people.”

My placement with the BPTHA Pen Museum by Xiaoling Tong

The first time I had heard of the museum of pen nibs I laughed at it and at the fact that people even bother to care for such trivial matters, but before long I realised how ignorant and conceited I had been. The pen room is not only a space for legends about the glory of the industrial empire, but also an evidence of the strong link between heritage and community. The museum itself is run fully by volunteers since the first day it was started. Once you walked into the vintage room of nibs and machines, you are immediately surrounded by the passionate volunteers who have been committing themselves to the unique antiques and the historical subject for years. The casual atmosphere and friendly colleagues make the cosy museum ideal for people including me who are new to the city and the subsector to learn, free of fears and concerns. I was a newbie and I made mistakes, but whenever I felt daunted I received encouragement and constructive feedbacks as well. Today, the museum houses more and more international youth who is interested in history and curatorial practice, which added a new dimension to the staff body comprising people of rich knowledge about local history.

Best wishes to the museum and the BPTHA!

Xiaoling Tong (Ling)

MA in International Cultural Policy and Management.

Xialong Tong

The DANCE: Using Tools and Styles to Create Contrast in Design

 With: Rachel Yallop & Michael Clark 17-19 (3 days) October 2014

The Pen Museum, 60 Frederick Street, Birmingham B1 3HS.

 This class will focus on the integration of both tools and styles in the creation of designs using contrast, colour and balance. We will begin by exploring the concept of contrast in everyday lettering and design. The second goal of this workshop is to introduce students to a variety of tools and techniques that they may not be aware of. The final phase, and majority of time will be spent employing these techniques, tools, theories and new ideas. 

For the most part exercises and work will be done as individuals, but some will be done “as duos,” that are carefully chosen by Rachel and Michael. The idea is to expand design skills using self awareness of strengths and weaknesses and using them to one’s advantage.

Experience Level: Intermediate

Venue: The Pen Museum, a unique and much-loved, small, independent museum – the only one of its kind in Britain, opened in 2001. It contains an amazing collection of over 5,000 objects related to the Birmingham steel pen trades and history of writing. Their archives will be made available to students.

Rachel Yallop has pursued a freelance career specialising in creative and expressive calligraphy for nearly 30 years working with design consultants handling accounts from major UK companies. Her love of letters stems from a lifelong passion for drawing, with her original works exploring form, space, tension and freedom of line. Rachel is an elected Member of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, a Founder Member and past Chairman of Letter Exchange and an Honoured Fellow of CLAS.

Michael Clark is a commercial lettering artist and font designer who resides in Virginia, USA. Two of his fonts won international awards and he has been featured twice in Letter Arts Review. His work is a mix of traditional and contemporary lettering for book covers, logos, CD covers and “titling” for magazines and printed ephemera and the web.

Supply list: Please bring any and all ruling pens in your possession, brushes, Speedball A,B,C, and D nibs and anything that looks like it will hold ink (except a sink) and will write. Paper of all kinds (as much as you can carry), and lots of FREE flowing ink.

For booking and accommodation information contact Rachel at

£150 for 3 days…includes lunch

Pen Museum AGM 2014

This year’s AGM will be on Saturday 14 June 2014 starting at 11.00 am. After the main business has been conducted there will be a short break before a talk by a guest speaker. At the end of the talk there will be an opportunity to join in some light refreshments.

Guest Speaker 2014
Norman Bartlam works as a teacher in the Ladywood area of Birmingham on local history, geography, and citizenship projects. He is heavily involved with local history (he runs the Ladywood Local History Group) and is the author of several titles in the Britain in Old Photographs series. Norman’s talk will be based around life in Ladywood and the Jewellery Quarter during the First World War.

Museums at Night

Museums at Night Pen Museum Artist talks 2014

(Talks approximately 40 minutes)


Saturday 24th May 2.30pm

Jon Wilkes


Jon Wilkes Co-ordinator of Transient-Art and participating artist, Jon Wilkes will discuss the project at the museum and the group’s previous shows and future plans. He will also introduce his artwork and the devices he creates


Sunday 1st June 2.00pm  

Pak Keung Wan


Pak Keung Wan practises and studies many Western and Eastern philosophical principles, his work could be compared with meditative rituals that embrace internal power, movement and awareness. His drawings and artistic output seem like frozen moments of examination, depiction of form which seems to contain its own organic living qualities, elements that seem intrinsic to life its self, things which contain mystery. Within his talk Pak will introduce his practise and the theories behind his work.


Saturday 7th June 2.30pm  

David Miller


Through engaging with such writings as A Rebours by Huysmans, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and photographic writings by Roland Barthes it is inevitable that David’s work is concerned with memory, aging, self-representation, caricatures and process. These literary inspirations lead to a practice represented

Writing Workshop: Working with Museums and Archives

May 21 @ 2:00 pm - 4:30 pm

This one-off workshop is an opportunity to explore how working with museums and archives can stimulate your writing.

The location is The Pen Museum, site of a former Victorian pen factory and a treasure trove of literature and artefacts relating to the steel pen industry.

During the 19th Century, it is said that 75 per cent of everything written in the world was with a ‘Birmingham’ pen. At one time, there were around 100 factories in the Jewellery Quarter area. The development of the steel pen reduced the cost of writing and enabled the spread of literacy throughout the world.

In this World War 1 centenary year, the workshop will draw on materials in the museum relating to the war, and in particular the impact it had on women’s lives.

The workshop will be led by Fiona Joseph. Fiona is a teacher, publisher and writer. She has written a biography of Beatrice Cadbury, the radical daughter of the famous chocolate manufacturer, and is currently working on a novel based on Cadbury women employees in WW1.

How to Book:
To book your place, please contact our box office, The Box, on 0121 245 4455 or you can book online by clicking here.