Re-discovering Sheffield’s ‘works on paper’ collection

Jan 18 2012

Project Co-ordinator Arantza Barrutia-Wood blogs about an important research and conservation project she's leading at Museums Sheffield.

Museums Sheffield’s Collections Management team have been busy recently, upgrading storage conditions and researching Sheffield’s ‘works on paper’ collection. This comprises watercolours, drawings, prints and photographs, mainly from the 19th and 20th centuries, and covers many subjects. Thanks to recent funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, we have been able to give some much needed attention to this collection, understanding more clearly its wealth and significance.

The preservation of these more vulnerable works for future generations is high in our agenda, which is why we are evaluating the condition of the collections and feeding this information into a future conservation strategy. In addition, we are building a database containing over 7,000 records, creating unprecedented levels of access. We are also keen to share these works with a wide range of audiences and to offer loans to other institutions in the UK and abroad. Last year works from Sheffield’s collections toured to the Royal Academy, the Musee D’Orsay, Madrid, the National Galley of Scotland, Los Angeles and The British Museum, amongst others.

The collection features a rich and exciting representation of local, national and international artists such as Pierre Bonnard, Francisco de Goya, Thomas Bush Hardy, Norman Ackroyd, Edward Bawden, Paolozzi, Leonard Beaumont, Frank Brangwyn, Max Ernst, Chantrey, Kuniyoshi, Ruskin plus many more.

Through this project we have been able to offer career opportunities to interested volunteers. We have also engaged with local interest groups and other museums around the region.  We’ll be celebrating the project with our audiences through an exhibition late in 2012 which will showcase some of the gems from the collection at the Graves Gallery – hope to see you there.

The project has been generously founded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation

Featured images:
Hartland Point by Thomas Bush Hardy, watercolour on paper, 1890
Portrait of Joseph Mallord William Turner by Cornelius Varley, pencil on paper 1815-1820


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