Friends First – Sheffield Stories
The generous donations made by Friends during the Weston Park Christmas Appeal have helped to make the forthcoming Sheffield Stories gallery at Weston Park Museum even more special. Work on the displays was progressing well before the museums closed and the team are eager to complete the gallery as soon it’s safe to do so. In the meantime, we wanted our Friends to be the first to know what visitors can expect from the museum’s newest addition.
Sheffield Stories will be the second new gallery to open at Weston Park Museum and follows Ancient Egypt, which debuted to a fantastic response in February. The new galleries have been made possible thanks to a £187,000 grant from the DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund and generous support from the Earl Fitzwilliam Trust, the Foyle Foundation, the JG Graves Charitable Trust, Charles Hayward Foundation, Sheffield Town Trust, Museums Sheffield Friends and visitors to the museum.
The inaugural displays, focusing on Sheffield in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, have been developed in collaboration with local community groups from Gleadless Valley. The city, like the rest of the UK, saw great change during the second half of the 20th century, from the rise of the teenager and women increasingly going out to work, to decimalisation and the birth of the NHS. It was also a time of major transformation for Gleadless Valley in particular, which went from largely rural farmland to a modern housing estate with around 4000 new homes.
Lucy Cooper, Museums Sheffield Exhibitions and Display Curator who has been working on the gallery, has enjoyed collaborating with the people of Sheffield to tell their stories: “The city is full of amazing, untold stories and it’s been brilliant to work with Gleadless Valley residents to tell some of them. There are no greater experts on life in the city than the people who live here – we’re really thrilled to have the opportunity to share that knowledge and expertise through Sheffield Stories."
You will see exhibits exploring family, home, social life and neighbourhoods, including loans from community contributors and archive photographs, as well as objects from the city’s Social History collection. Highlights include a 1964 Sobell Cocktail Stereogram, combining a record player and drinks cabinet, a 1974 Meersbrook Park Congregational Church May Queen crown and cushion, and souvenirs and memorabilia marking key events from the period, including the Queen’s Coronation, the 1966 World Cup and The Festival of Britain.
Visitors will be able to experience a retro living room, hear residents talking about their lives in the city, as well as see examples of film footage from the period. There’ll also be plenty to entertain younger visitors, including retro board games, dressing up, a Duplo construction area and even a mini Sheffield play bus to explore.
We look forward to be able to put the finishing touches to the new gallery and opening Sheffield Stories for everyone to explore. We’ll keep you updated as soon as we have more information on when we’ll safely be able to reopen the museums.
Images (top to bottom):
- Record, 1955-56 © Museums Sheffield
- Coronation hankerchief, 1953 © Museums Sheffield
- Vacuum cleaner, 1960-69 © Museums Sheffield
- Model tram, 1957 © Museums Sheffield