Sheffield might be the City of Steel but underneath that gritty industrial exterior it’s bursting with artistic energy, from award-winning art galleries to interactive geopolitical museums.
Culture in Sheffield
With some world-class art galleries, contemporary art festivals and the renowned ’60s building The Art Tower, Sheffield has plenty to shout about in the art world.
Millennium Gallery is Sheffield’s leading art, craft and design museum, showcasing the city’s rich metalwork history alongside more contemporary art and exhibitions and is the most-visited free attraction in the north. Using natural light where possible to showcase its works, the 1,800-square-metre space is home to the Ruskin Collection and the Metalwork Collection, as well as touring shows from V&A, the Tate and the National Portrait Gallery.
Founded in the mid-1930s, Graves Gallery is a traditional art gallery which has showcased work by Damien Hirst, Turner and Da Vinci. Funded by George Graves and thanks to a £20,000 donation and over 700 of his own collected pieces, the collection has grown over the decades and now attracts over 50,000 visitors a year. For more contemporary art from emerging local talent, Bank Street Arts and S1 Artspace are just 10 minutes’ walk from Graves Gallery.
An antiques/vintage shop that doubles as a gallery, The Nichols Building is an antiques, art and craft centre bringing together local handmade goods spanning clothing, pottery, sculpture, artwork, photography and more. Hugely eclectic and evocative, it’s as easy to stroll around the collections for several hours as it is to pick up some highly unusual bargains.
Kelham Island Museum
As you’d expect from a city with such vivid historical roots, Sheffield’s museum scene is a rich, interactive world that takes you through the centuries.
Kelham Island Museum recounts the city’s rich industrial history, with a working 12,000hp steam engines one of the main attractions. Located on a man-made island just outside the city centre, the museum has plenty of displays and exhibitions including a transport gallery and a live steel melting plant at work.
Equally impressive is the National Emergency Services Museum, a three-floor museum showcasing the changing face of the nation’s emergency services including a detailed guide to the uniforms, vehicles and even provides an example of what to expect if you were caught in the middle of a fire fight. If you’re into hands-on experiences, the Magna Science Adventure Centre is designed for kids aged big and small, and takes you through the four elements - earth, wind, fire and water - including an in-depth look at how Sheffield’s steel scene burst to life. And finally for something a bit more cerebral, head to Weston Park C, an all-encompassing museum that traces Sheffield’s rich history through its communities and cultures.