Sheffield City Council plan to unify city’s museums

Written by Mark Harrison

A report seeking approval to create a unified Sheffield Museums Trust was presented to Sheffield City Council on Wednesday 17 February.

The proposed trust will cover several sites, including The Millennium Gallery, Graves Gallery, Abbeydale industrial hamlet and Weston Park Museum.

Rebecca Maddox, Head of Business Development (Culture) for Sheffield City Council and author of the report told Sheffield Wire: “This is a really good news story for the city and is something that has been going on for quite some time.”

The report plans to merge Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust and Museums Sheffield, which have been separate since the 1990s.

The new trust will receive £1,741,200 a year in council funding, for the first two years. It will also receive funding from the Arts Council and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Ms Maddox said the forming of the new trust will allow all of Sheffield’s historical sites and museums to be found easily on one website instead of several separate ones, making it easier for people to discover more about Sheffield City’s history.

The report says: “In resolving to become one new organization, Trustees believe that the museums will be stronger, more resilient, and better placed to develop and share Sheffield’s extraordinary collections into the future.”

Ms Maddox said to the council: “It feels like, within the context of COVID, it makes even more sense to do this now to help attract people back to the city centre.”

The report has been 5 years in the making, and the goal is for the trusts to merge and operate as one in April 2021.

Support for the unification was strongly voiced by councillors in the meeting.

Cllr Mary Lea said: “Merging these two museums, which hold such a large amount of the heritage of Sheffield, will make them more resilient and more stable.”

The recommendations seeking approval were all approved by the council members present.

Over the next five years, the new Trust will work to develop relationships with specialist networks, communities and volunteers to collaboratively explore, challenge and inform the way the collections are used.

Written by Mark Harrison

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