From City of Empire To City of Diversity: A Visual Journey

Library of Birmingham
From City of Empire to City of Diversity: A Visual Journey is located in the gallery on level 3 at the Library of Birmingham.

The exhibition is free and no booking is required

18 March – 18 June 2022
Mon – Tues: 11am-7pm, Wed-Sat: 11-5pm, Sun: closed.

Working in partnership with Birmingham Archives, Library of Birmingham and University of Birmingham, our major new heritage project, From City Of Empire To City Of Diversity: A Visual Journey has been created from The Dyche Collection, one of the most important photographic collections within Birmingham Archives and acquired by Birmingham Central Library in 1990. It will document post-1945 migration and the huge contribution made by those who settled in the city from the Commonwealth.

The Dyche Collection features photographs by self-taught photographer Ernest Dyche and his son Malcolm, who had two studios in the city and produced individual, group, family and wedding portraits. In the 1950s, the portrait work shifted its focus to the first wave of migrants arriving in Birmingham from Africa, the Caribbean and Indian sub-continent. For over 25 years, many visitors to his main studio would have portraits made to send back to friends and family in their home countries – inadvertently capturing the story of Commonwealth migration, and recording an important phase in Birmingham’s history.

To highlight the reality of life for immigrants from the Commonwealth countries making a new life in the city, From City Of Empire To City Of Diversity: A Visual Journey uses the Dyche collection and draws upon other collections held by Birmingham Archives, notably Benjamin Stone, Helen Caddick, Paul Hill, Nick Hedges, Vanley Burke and George Hallet.


Meet the Curators
Sat 2nd April, 2pm & Tues 10th May, 5.30pm

Enjoy the exhibition, then discuss the themes of From City of Empire to City of Diversity with curators Ian Grosvenor and Rita Mclean.

Family Day
Sat 9th April & Wed 1st June

Bring your family and be part of history with free workshops, gallery tours, storytelling and educational programme all aimed at providing with an in-depth knowledge of the exhibition.

Book Here


If you would like to get involved and volunteer or have information that can help with the archive, please contact (0121 446 3266).

Images: Dyche Collection, Reproduced by permission of the Library of Birmingham.

Project News

This project is supported by:

and support from The Cole Charitable Trust

Made possible thanks to #NationalLottery players!