Nov 18 2015
Curator of Social History Clara Morgan and Senior Technician Chris Shelton talk about the challenge of moving and installing Joe Scarborough’s huge panorama to its new home:
In 2014 Museums Sheffield acquired the painting Sheffield Through The Ages by Joe Scarborough. This epic work is nine and a half metres long and over two metres high, and is the largest object in the city’s collections. Sheffielders may remember seeing Joe creating the work in Ponds Forges International Sports Centre and Castle Market from 1999 onwards.
The painting took Joe six years to complete, and is designed as a visual walk through the city through time, starting in 1940. Around the edge of the painting are newspaper headlines and references to current events, music, local companies and institutions- these include workers rolling and hammering steel at Samuel Osborn’s, Pullen’s Fairground, protest marches, Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United football clubs and the Madina Mosque.
The large size of the painting meant that preparing, safely moving and displaying it in Weston Park would be a bit of a challenge for our technical team. In 2014 Hague Plant Ltd very generously helped to move the painting from its previous location, and technicians from the Crucible Theatre and freelancers helped our team with the manual lifting. We successfully managed to get the painting to our store- then work began planning its relocation to the museum.
After preparing the long corridor wall in the museum, we were ready to move the painting to its new home at Weston Park. We decided to close the museum for the day as we needed to take the painting straight in the front entrance and down the main corridor to its new home- no mean feat considering the size of the work!
Our technical team planned the move meticulously and enlisted the help of extra freelancers to assist. Once again Hague Plant Ltd generously provided a low loader, and driver James expertly negotiated the big vehicle and the painting from the Millennium Gallery through the city centre and into Weston Park through the narrow gate. During a lucky break in the rain, the team of twelve technicians manually lifted the painting off the low loader and carefully carried it around the winding entrance ramp and into the museum.
The painting slotted perfectly into the framework that the team had constructed to hold the painting safely. If you visited the museum the morning after the move you will have seen the team hard at work on the finishing touches.
We hope you will enjoy seeing this wonderful addition to Sheffield’s collections and to the museum’s displays-after all the hard work preparing to install the painting we’re thrilled to see it in pride of place at Weston Park.
Top: Artist Joe Scarborough with his painting Sheffield Through The Ages at Weston Park. Image © Museums Sheffield.
Bottom: Photographs of Museums Sheffield's technical team installing Joe Scarborough's painting Sheffield Through The Ages at Weston Park. Images © Museums Sheffield.