The venue has been closed for half a year to facilitate an overhaul that encompassed walls being reclad in three of the main exhibition spaces, having remained largely unaltered since first opening in 1934, and redecoration throughout in order to refresh all display areas.
Kirstie Hamilton, director of programmes at Sheffield Museums, says the Graves Gallery redevelopment work has enabled the organisation to “breathe new life into its spaces through refurbishment and redecoration, develop displays which bring compelling new perspectives and create a vital and vibrant programme of continuing change over the coming years”.
Visitors returning to Graves Gallery will find old favourites such as JMW Turner’s The Festival of the Opening of the Vintage at Macon (c.1803) interspersed with a variety of new additions – around a third of the artworks now display are changed from previous curation.
Brand new exhibitions of work by artists Mark Firth and Phlegm, alongside a new display by Keith Piper re-examining the histories represented through the city’s collections, will all be in place when the site reopens next month.
“We are living at a moment when the historic contents of galleries and museums are under particular scrutiny, and the task of ordering (or dis-ordering) museum objects to provide audiences with a wider, more challenging, more complicating and hopefully more ‘enlightening’ version of our entangled histories is being opened to wider input,” Piper notes.
“The assemblage of art works and objects in this display represent a contribution towards this process.”
Graves Gallery’s renovation was made possible courtesy of a grant from The Ampersand Foundation, a long-time backer of Sheffield Museums. The £455,000 awarded represents the largest single amount ever awarded by the foundation.
Jack Kirkland, the charity’s chairman, says Sheffield Museums is “using the money as it was intended to be used: that is for the benefit of all Sheffield residents and visitors, and in particular children and young people”.
Graves Gallery reopens to the public on Friday 3rd September and, in line with the policy across all Sheffield Museums venues, will continue to offer free admission to all visitors.