A New Era for Sheffield’s Museums


The start of April marks a huge moment for Sheffield museums, galleries and heritage sites – this week, Museums Sheffield and Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust officially join together to become Sheffield Museums, a new unified museums service for the city and its people. To coincide with this important milestone, Sheffield Museums has just received confirmation of a £159,000 grant from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund, which will help lay strong foundations for the Trust’s future. Here’s our Chief Executive, Kim Streets, on looking forward to the next step in our journey.

It seems fitting that Sheffield Museums comes into being in a week filed with such positive news. For the first time in what feels like a very long time, many of us have been able to get out and reunite with our loved ones; as we’ve welcomed our nearest and dearest into our gardens or picnic’d with them in the park, the skies turned blue and the temperature soared in approval. As we take this much longed-for step forward together, I’m really pleased  that this week the city’s museums take their own momentous stride towards a bright future. As Sheffield Museums, we bring together Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, Graves Gallery, Kelham Island Museum, Millennium Gallery, Shepherd Wheel and Weston Park Museum. We also unite the hugely talented teams of Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust and Museums Sheffield and bring together the remarkable collections we have the privilege of caring for on behalf of the people of Sheffield. Together, our future is full of opportunities; the opportunity to work with our communities, co-curators and local partners to tell a comprehensive story of Sheffield and it’s people; the opportunity to celebrate the excellence in craft and industry, and the creativity and the innovation, that have become synonymous with the city; the opportunity to bring extraordinary cultural experiences to the region; and the opportunity to create the very best experiences for the visitors we welcome.

For much of the last 12 months the doors to the city’s museums have remained closed. Museums, like every industry, have been hugely affected by the pandemic. Extended closure has seen a huge loss of income that would normally be raised through its shops, cafes, corporate hire, ticket sales and the generous donations of visitors. Its been a difficult time for everyone, but now as we become Sheffield Museums, we also find ourselves in a position where we can start to really look ahead.

Our first job as Sheffield Museums is to finalise plans to reopen the museums in May, restrictions allowing. Those plans received a huge boost this week with confirmation that we had successfully bid for a £159,000 grant in the second phase of the government’s Culture Recovery Fund. The grant will support staff resource, training and development, as well as the ongoing costs of maintaining a Covid-safe environment and will allow us to put down strong foundations from on which we can build. We’re hugely grateful to the Department for Culture, Media and Support for their generosity, as well as to Arts Council and Sheffield City Council for their continued support.

At the moment, most of our work for the new Trust is behind the scenes, setting up the new charity, bringing the team together, and lots (and lots) of planning. For a while, things will seem pretty similar – we’ll continue to run the same websites, our marketing will look largely the same, and we’ll continue to use the same photographs, signage and information we did as the two Trusts. Later in the year though, we’ll be unveiling both a new web platform and a brand new look for Sheffield Museums – look out for more on those in due course.

Before then, we have something very much long-awaited to look forward to – welcoming you back! Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing the plans for reopening in May, as well as for the months ahead. These will include details on new exhibitions and displays, belated 50th birthday celebrations for Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, and a move to free entry at both Abbeydale and Kelham Island Museum, which will come into effect later in the year.

We’re really looking forward to telling you all about it. In the meantime, stay safe, keep well, and we’ll see you again very soon!