New lease of life for Graves Gallery thanks to Ampersand Foundation funding

Nov 26 2020

We’re really delighted to announce a new programme of refurbishment and redisplay for the Graves Gallery, which has been made possible through a generous five-year funding grant from the Ampersand Foundation.

Sheffield’s Graves Gallery is set to benefit from a significant five-year investment thanks to funding from the Ampersand Foundation announced today. Museums Sheffield has secured the generous £455,000 grant to improve the gallery displays and a programme of engagement activity. The Gallery will undergo an initial six-month programme of refurbishment and redisplay before reopening in summer 2021.

The Graves Gallery is located on the top floor of Sheffield’s Central Library, one of the city centre’s landmark buildings. Opened in 1934, it is home to Sheffield’s visual art collection, with displays featuring works by greats from JMW Turner and Cezanne to Bridget Riley and Grayson Perry. The historic building is in need of significant investment and has been identified as a priority by owners Sheffield City Council. The council, in collaboration with Museums Sheffield, hope to develop an ambitious plan for the future of Central Library & Graves Gallery when the funding landscape, greatly affected by COVID-19, allows.

Support from the Ampersand Foundation will ensure that over the next five years the Graves Gallery will enjoy a new lease of life; the funding will enable improvements to the Gallery that will provide inspiring, engaging cultural experiences for the people of Sheffield and beyond, as well as enabling them to help shape its future. The Ampersand Foundation funding will support a series of much-needed improvements in the gallery, conservation of the city’s art collection, work with schools and artists, and more, including:

  • A six-month programme of redevelopment and redisplay which will see walls re-cladded in three of the main galleries, redecoration to breathe new life into the display spaces, and a complete change-over of a third of the artworks currently on display.

  • Subsequent rehangs of a third of the gallery’s collection displays every year, offering greater opportunity to see much more of the city’s collection, more often.

  • Galleries co-curated with external partners including artists, experts and specialists, bringing new perspectives to the displays.

  • A programme of conservation which will see multiple artworks every year receiving the specialist care needed for them to go on display and safeguard them for future generations.

  • From 2022, a series of exhibitions, created with, by and for young people, which will see artworks from the collection go on display in schools and other venues.

  • New artist commissions which will invite artists to develop new, innovative ways of engaging with the works in Sheffield’s collection through their own artistic practice.

The Graves Gallery currently remains closed due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. With current restrictions, the initial period of redevelopment and first redisplay is set to take six months and will see the gallery reopen to the public in late spring 2021. The opening of the redeveloped gallery will be one of the first milestones for the Sheffield’s new unified museums Trust, which will see Museums Sheffield and Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust come together to operate six of the city’s museums and galleries.

Kirstie Hamilton, Director of Programmes at Museums Sheffield, said:
“We’re hugely grateful to the Ampersand Foundation for this incredibly generous funding. The Graves Gallery is one of the jewels in the city’s cultural crown and we have ambitious long-term plans for it, but those plans have inevitably been delayed by the pandemic. As we work towards imagining the gallery’s future, this support from the Ampersand Foundation will ensure we’re able to provide amazing cultural experiences, show and celebrate more of the collection and develop truly meaningful partnerships with artists, schools and communities.”

Jack Kirkland, Chairman of the Ampersand Foundation, said:
“We are delighted to partner with Museums Sheffield in making this grant – our largest to date – to improve the Graves Gallery and make sure this fantastic asset is enjoyed by more Sheffield residents and visitors. Speaking personally, I am particularly pleased that we are able to do something in Sheffield, my late mother’s hometown, and a place that is very close to my heart.”

The Graves Gallery will reopen in summer 2021. The Millennium Gallery and Weston Park Museum reopen on Thu 20 May.



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