The Millennium Gallery

Sheffield’s museums set to reopen with FREE entry

Sheffield’s museums are set to reopen their doors from Thursday 20 May as current Government restrictions come to an end. As well as welcoming visitors with new exhibitions and displays, entry will be free at all sites, including Kelham Island Museum and Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet.

The introduction of free entry at Kelham Island Museum and Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet follows the formation of Sheffield Museums, a new charitable trust established last month which brought together Museums Sheffield and Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust.

At Kelham Island Museum, which opens on Thursday 20 May, visitors will once again be able to experience the rumble and roar of the River Don Engine, which will be in steam publicly for the first time in over eight months. Museum goers will also have the chance to explore displays celebrating the centuries of incredible innovation that has cemented Sheffield’s reputation for excellence in making, including visitor favourites Little Mesters Lane and the Sheffield Simplex cars.

Outside Kelham Island Museum

Kelham Island Museum

The Millennium Gallery is also set to reopen on Thursday 20 May with a dazzling new exhibition direct from the National Portrait Gallery. Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things explores the extravagant world of the glamorous and stylish ‘Bright Young Things’ of the twenties and thirties through the lens of the renowned British photographer.

The exhibition in Sheffield is a remarkable opportunity to see these works together after the pandemic sadly brought the original run in London to a close after just one week. The gallery will also debut a new exhibition curated in partnership with Koestler Arts and the Sheffield Youth Justice Service; My Path will bring together artworks created by people in the criminal justice system across Yorkshire and celebrates the role of creativity in the rehabilitative journey.

Also reopening its doors on Thursday 20 May, Weston Park Museum will offer visitors the first chance to see the latest addition to the museum’s displays, a four-metre-long skeleton of a pilot whale. The skeleton was carefully reassembled by Sheffield biology lecturer, Dave Clay during the first lockdown and has been suspended from the ceiling at the entrance to the museum’s What on Earth! gallery.

Millenium Gallery curator Ashley Gallant hanging pictures as part of new Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things exhibition

Curator Ashley Gallant with new exhibition Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things, hung ready for the reopening of the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield

The popular exhibition The Sheffield Project: Photographs of a Changing City, which opened just before the last lockdown came into effect, also makes a welcome return, reflecting on a monumental period of change for the city and its people during the 1980s and 90s. The exhibition is complemented by the recently completed Sheffield Stories gallery, looking at life in the city during the 1950s, 60s and 70s, as well as a host of much-missed museum favourites, including Spike the woolly rhino, Snowy the polar bear, and more.

A unique window into life at an 18th century steelworks, Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet will reopen on Saturday 29 May, with plans in the pipeline for a series of belated birthday celebrations for the museum, which turned 50 last year. Sheffield Museums will be announcing more details on the upcoming events and anniversary activities in the coming weeks.

Finally, on Saturday 1 June Shepherd Wheel will welcome visitors for the first time since March last year. The Grade II listed building and Scheduled Ancient Monument in the Porter Valley’s Whiteley Woods offer a rare chance to see a 16th century waterwheel in action and explore the cutlery grinding workshop that it powered.

Outside one of Sheffield's museums, Weston Park Museum

Weston Park Museum is set to reopen on Thursday 20 May

The Graves Gallery currently remains closed as work continues on a programme of refurbishment and redisplay supported by generous funding from the Ampersand Foundation. The gallery and its new displays are set to open in the summer.

Kim Streets, Chief Executive of Sheffield Museums, said: “Our team are really looking forward to welcoming visitors back – and we have a great programme lined up for them.

“The city’s museums and the collections they house belong to the people of Sheffield, so we’re delighted that free entry at all sites will make them available to everyone.

“Being open and free is only possible thanks to the incredible generosity of our visitors, so if you’re able, please donate, it makes a huge difference.”

To avoid disappointment, visitors are encouraged to pre-book their free visit to Sheffield’s museums. Pre-booking and reduced numbers are part of a range comprehensive safety measure in place, which also include enhanced cleaning, hand sanitiser stations and changes to some sites’ air handling system to continuously bring in fresh air. Visitors to Sheffield’s museums can plan and book their visit online at 

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