Following a four-month refurbishment project the displays of Museums Sheffield’s metalwork collection, housed in the Millennium Gallery, have been completely transformed.
The gallery has been completely reconfigured through the introduction of flexible new display cases and lighting, enabling more of the collection to be shared more often. Funding for the project has been supported by the (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) DCMS/Wolfson Museums Improvement Fund – which supports projects in English museums and galleries that improve the quality of displays, collection interpretation, public spaces and access and facilities for disabled visitors – as well as a number of trusts, foundations and organisations.
The city’s Metalwork Collection is cared for by Museums Sheffield and comprises more than 13,000 items, thought to be the most extensive grouping of Sheffield-made cutlery, flatware (forks and spoons) and holloware (bowls, teapots, containers) in existence. The Collection was awarded Designated Status by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport in 1999 in recognition of its outstanding national and historical significance.
Visitors to the new displays will discover a vast variety of work from the Collection, from ornate historic pieces to examples showcasing the skills of the makers and manufacturers working in the city today. Highlights will include a pair of a large decorative 19th century silver and gilt exhibition scissors made by Frederick Ward & Company and an innovative Old Sheffield Plate tea and coffee machine made by Daniel Holy, Wilkinson & Company and Roberts, Cadman and Co, Sheffield from 1797. Amongst the returning visitor favourites will be the popular Old Sheffield Plate turtle soup tureen dating from around 1800 and a 22 carat gold and enamel cup created in1929 by Helena Ibbotson, described at the time as “undoubtedly the best enameller in Sheffield”.
Clare Starkie, Curator of Decorative Art at Museums Sheffield said: “Sheffield has reputation for metalwork that is known around the globe and the Metalwork Collection is a real testament to the remarkable skill, craftsmanship and innovation that the city has become synonymous with. We’re delighted that these new displays will enable us to share much more of the collection with our visitors and really allow these wonderful objects to shine.”
A wide range of objects will represent the remarkable craftsmanship of contemporary makers, including a sterling silver candelabra (2004) by award-winning silversmith Chris Knight and sterling silver cup (2011) by Warren Martin, who won the commission as part of the annual NADFAS bursary scheme whilst studying for a BA Hons in Metalwork and Jewellery Design at Sheffield Hallam University.
The new-look gallery will also feature a changing programme of temporary exhibitions and displays, the first of which will explore the theme of World Cutlery, displaying five different cutlery collections ranging from the pre-historic to the 20th century.
The Metalwork Collection opens on Wednesday, 3 June – entrance is free.