Graves Gallery

Gallery that showcases a variety of styles from contemporary to historical, housed above the central library, right across from the Sheffield winter garden.



Graves Gallery is an art gallery in Sheffield city centre, located on the third floor above the Central Library on Surrey Street. Managed by Museums Sheffield, it houses a range of both permanent and temporary exhibitions, ranging from historic to contemporary styles of British and European art. It is dedicated to ‘the service of knowledge and art’.
First opened in 1934, the gallery is named after its primary benefactor, businessman and former Sheffield Lord Mayor John George Graves (1866-1945), who made his fortune with one of Britain’s first mail-order businesses. A keen art collector, Graves donated around 700 paintings to the gallery, many of which are still on display today. The original gallery director was John Rothenstein, who would later become director of the Tate Gallery in London. The gallery and library building was considered a state-of-the-art facility in the 1930s – it was constructed in an Art Deco style, and was fitted with heating by an invisible panel system, artificial ventilation, ‘synchronised electric clocks’ and five lifts.
The permanent exhibition broadly traces the development of British and European art over time through many artists. It contains significant works by well-known artists including JMW Turner, Alfred Sisley, Sir Stanley Spencer, Helen Chadwick, Marc Quinn, and Bridget Riley.
Graves Gallery had a significant amount of acquisitions in the 1940s and 1950s, amassing an impressive range of quality 20th-century artworks. After remaining dormant for some time, the collection received a boost in 1999 when charities such as the Contemporary Art Society, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Art Collections Fund offered their support, along with private benefactors. In 2009, the gallery received a refurbishment, with works re-hung around key themes.
Significant temporary exhibitions in recent years have included collections by Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, and the BLK Art Group.
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