The Ruskin Collection
Discover a collection created for Sheffield’s workers over 130 years ago; a collection designed to inspire creativity and to be a haven from the busy workday world.
John Ruskin, who formed this collection, was a Victorian writer who searched passionately for beauty in the world around him. He explored nature from the smallest pebble to the mightiest landscape and examined art from the daintiest brush stroke to soaring architectural structures.
During his lifetime, England’s manufacturing cities expanded and became wealthy, whilst their workforces lived in poverty and grime. Workers had little to inspire them. Ruskin wanted to counter this imbalance and set up the Guild of St George, a philanthropic society. Through the Guild, Ruskin founded a museum specifically for Sheffield’s workers. He filled it with a collection of artworks, illustrated books and minerals, all chosen to reflect his exploration of beauty.
Originally sited at Walkley, just outside the city centre, visitors could escape the smoke that surrounded them and immerse themselves in nature and art. Today, though the Ruskin Collection is exhibited in the city centre, it is still displayed and used as the creative and inspirational tool that Ruskin intended.
Visitors to the Ruskin Collection will see a broad range of exhibits, including early renaissance art, gothic architecture, engravings, mosaic decoration, illustrations of birds, flowers, insects, geological specimens, illustrated books and medieval manuscripts.
The items on display from the Ruskin Collection are changed twice each year. Explore the collection through the changing displays, and find out if you share Ruskin’s thoughts on beauty.
The current display explores the Ruskin Collection in its initial homes in the Walkley and Meersbrook areas of Sheffield. They also celebrate the legacy of the Collection in these communities today.
Since 2014, the Ruskin Collection has inspired ‘Ruskin in Sheffield', a programme of events and activities spread across the city. The programme was initiated by the Guild of St George, working with Museums Sheffield.
In the adventurous spirit of John Ruskin, and with the help of Sheffield communities, ‘Ruskin in Sheffield’ established a Pop-Up Museum and Ruskin Museum Makeover. It has organised performances, festivals and film projections. More than 18,000 people have taken part.
Together, the Collection and Ruskin’s wider social and environmental ideas are still shaping better futures in Sheffield.