Museums Sheffield: Graves Gallery

A photo showing a couple looking at modern art works
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Rise above the city and discover over three hundred years of European and British Art. Take time out from the bustling city to relax on our comfy sofas or unwind in the café. Through Sheffield’s permanent collection and a changing programme of exhibitions, the Graves Gallery offers a break from the hectic pace of life and a place to think.

Expect to see lots of changes in the Graves over the coming months as we reconfigure the galleries and present new displays of our collections. Please bear with us whilst this work is undertaken.

Cross over the road to visit the Millennium Gallery or take a bus from the city centre to Bishops’ House.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

Wed-Fri 10.00-15.00, Sat 11.00-15.00

Closed Bank Holidays

Admission charges


Additional info

See website for details

Collection details

Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art

Key artists and exhibits

  • Pablo Picasso
  • Pierre Bonnard
  • Sir Stanley Spencer
  • Helen Chadwick
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
painting showing a frozen river scene with Dutch windmills

Gallery VIII: A golden age

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

Today’s border between Belgium and the Netherlands can be traced back to the 16th century, when the Low Countries split into two nations. In the north lay the independent, and largely Protestant, United Provinces of the Netherlands. In the south, Flanders remained under Catholic Spanish rule.

Landscapes and everyday scenes from domestic life became popular at this time. The Flemish artists often painted imaginary scenes, but the Dutch preferred to paint directly from life. Winter scenes were particularly popular due to the cold weather conditions that gripped the entire area. This is now known as the ‘little ice age’.

Expansion of trade in the 17th century brought a booming economy and a flourishing art market. Wealthy Dutch merchants could now afford paintings for their homes. This was a Golden Age for painting.

The displays feature work including David Teniers II's The Yard of an Inn (1650-60) and Aert van der Neer's Frozen River Scene (1641-60).


photograph of paintings on the wall in Graves Gallery

Gallery VII: Reflections

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

Portrait painting became popular in Western art in the 16th century. It was usually just the rich, upper classes who had their portraits painted because it was so expensive. People often commissioned portraits to show off their status. The works contain clues which reveal more about the person in the painting.

In the same way that today’s celebrity photographs are often airbrushed, these portraits showed an idealised version of the sitter. People were keen to show they were dedicated followers of fashion, through their clothes, hairstyles or choice of artist. Portrait painters often worked with a team of assistants. The lead artist sometimes only painted the face of the sitter, leaving the assistants to finish the painting. They would each specialise in a particular area such as the drapery or background landscape.


photograph of paintings on wall in gallery 6 of Graves Gallery

Gallery VI: 400 years of European art

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

This gallery is split into three sections:

Telling Tales: Stories and symbols in art from the 18th and 19th century

A picture is worth a thousand words. People have always used images to tell stories, from cave paintings to children’s books. Paintings are often used to illustrate a myth, a religious story, a tale from a book or a historical event. Signs and symbols can be used in these paintings to represent a character or even an idea. In the 18th and 19th centuries a number of recognisable symbols were used to represent concepts like time, justice or death.

Devotion: Religious art from the 16th to the 18th century

Religions use art and images to celebrate their faith. Some use paintings and objects to tell the story of how their faith began. Others use imagery to encourage people to lead a good moral life. Religious art is also used to help create a focus for prayer. Stories were illustrated so that everyone could understand them, as many people couldn’t read. They contained easily recognisable signs and symbols so that people of all ages and backgrounds knew what they meant.

The Great Outdoors: Landscapes from the 18th and 19th century

During the 18th and 19th centuries landscape painting became increasingly popular. Artists looked for inspiration in nature as an escape from the growing industrial cities. Other artists painted the beauty of the landscape as a way of worshipping nature. There was a big increase in travel at this time among the rich. Wealthy young men travelled around Europe to broaden their education. This type of trip was known as the Grand Tour. They often bought paintings to remind them of their visit and show everyone back home what they had seen.


photograph of woman lookiing at sculpture in gallery 5 of Graves Gallery

Gallery V: A century of change

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

The gallery is split into four sections:

Striking a Pose: People in 20th century art

The way in which artists have represented people has changed throughout history. During the 20th century, growing importance was placed on the role of the individual and this was reflected in the art of the time. In many portraits the character and personality of the sitter became particularly significant. These qualities were often explored through colour, composition, pose and gesture rather than the recognised symbols frequently used in earlier centuries.

From Dawn till Dusk: Everyday life in the late 19th and 20th century

From the late 19th century onwards new technologies were developed, such as electric lighting, telephones, cars and buses. Towns and cities were transformed and artists increasingly focused on aspects of ordinary life. This concern with the everyday was explored in different ways throughout the 20th century. Some artists specifically focused on people going about their daily lives. They showed them involved in everyday activities at home, at work, and at leisure.

Conflict: War and unrest in the 20th century

During the 20th century Europe experienced may profound changes. Two world wars and many other conflicts had a dramatic impact on both life and art. Some artists embraced the machinery and technologies of this new age. They initially used art to glorify the idea of war, but became disillusioned by the devastation and destruction it caused.

A Sense of Place: Landscape in the 20th century

During the 20th century, artists began looking at the landscape and the environment that surrounded them in different ways. Building upon the ideas of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, they tried to capture the spirit of a place and explore their personal connection with it. Throughout this period the British landscape changed physically, showing the scars of war and the rapid growth of towns and cities. Many artists reacted to these changes by creating images of the landscape which explored a sense of national identity, often idealising the countryside. The relationship between the individual and the landscape became increasingly important throughout the 20th century.


photograph of statue and lined artwork in galler 4 at Graves Gallery

Gallery IV: Abstraction and Art now

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

Abstraction: pattern and colour in 20th century art

Abstract art reduces things to their simplest forms, rather than showing something easily recognisable. Some paintings were inspired by the real world. Artists used the patterns and colours found in nature as their starting point. However this may not be obvious when looking at the finished painting. Other abstract art doesn’t refer to reality at all. Instead artists used mathematical theories and number sequences to create their work.

Art Now: identity in contemporary art

What makes up our identity? It’s affected by many different factors: where we grew up, our family, age, job, faith or sexuality. This display shows work made by contemporary artists focussing on issues surrounding identity. Some pieces are very personal self-portraits where the artist explores their own identity. These works reveal something about the artist, but can also make us think about our own history, memories and experiences. Other works encourage us to think about our attitudes towards other people. What prejudices do we have? Are our opinions influenced by stereotypes? What makes up our identity and how does it change over time?

Gallery IV features work by artists including Bridget Riley, Marc Quinn, Hew Locke and Sam Taylor-Wood, as well as a recent work by Damien Hirst kindly lent to Museums Sheffield by Jarvis Cocker.


Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

Altered Books - Workshops and techniques

A step by step guide of workshop techniques about creating 'Altered Books' - where students show their individuality by creating their own books or personalise existing ones.


  • This resource was produced as part of the MLA-funded My Learning project.

Engaging young people with artworks

How to engage young people with art and Museums - includes audio recordings of members of a Youth Forum giving creative responses to different artworks.


  • This resource was produced as part of the MLA-funded My Learning project.

Marc Quinn and Figurative Sculpture

Marc Quinn's contemporary sculpture raises questions about how we view beauty and the human body, and about issues of disability. Using the sculpture as a focal point, this resource explores these themes with reference to other figurative sculpture from the collection of Museums Sheffield.


  • This resource was produced as part of the MLA-funded My Learning project.


Looking at portraits in Sheffield's collections - engaging interactive to create your own portrait.


  • This resource was produced as part of the MLA-funded My Learning project.

Samuel Pepys and the Great Fire of London of 1666

A resource about Samuel Pepys and the Great Fire of London, including ideas about how to use it in the classroom. Information about 17th Century life and housing, plus a really good interactive suitable for KS1/2 pupils.


  • This resource was produced as part of the MLA-funded My Learning project.

Twentieth Century Artists in the Graves Gallery

Information and chronologies about C20th Century artists with audio responses from students of all ages on some of the artworks featured. Artists include: Frank Auerbach, Peter Blake, John Bratby, Patrick Caulfield, Paul Nash, Richard Long and RB Kitaj.


  • This resource was produced as part of the MLA-funded My Learning project.

Yong's China Quest adventure game Level 2

Level 2 of an adventure game about Chinese history from 500 BCE to the Olympics.


  • This resource was produced as part of the MLA-funded My Learning project.

Youth Forum

Youth Forum consists of young people aged 14-24 years from across the city and is a ground breaking interpretation project which enables young people to be the decision-makers, creating dialogues between art in the Graves Gallery, Sheffield and its visitors. Through a series of artist-led workshops, supported by Museum Sheffield staff, Youth Forum creates innovative responses to Sheffield's Visual Art collection, sharing and exploring their ideas with a wider audience.

How to obtain

For more information, contact the Youth Forum Co-ordinator on 0114 278 2614 or email

Museums Sheffield: Graves Gallery
Graves Gallery
Surrey Street
South Yorkshire
S1 1XZ




Main Reception

0114 278 2600

Bookings for Tours, Talks, Events and School Trips

0114 275 2655

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.