Rustless: Harry Brearley and the Impact of Stainless on Everyday Life at Kelham Island

By Culture24 Reporter | 08 May 2013

Exhibition previews: Rustless: The Harry Brearley Story, until November 17; Stay Bright – Keep Bright: The Impact of Stainless on Everyday Life, until December 31 2013, Kelham Island Museum, Sheffield

A photo of a silver steel coat of arms
The intricate experiments allowing Harry Brearley to discover rust-free steel in August 1913 must have given the steelworker’s son some satisfaction, but he might not have expected his passport to be an object of historic reverence in one of the steel city’s best-loved museums almost a century on.

It joins a table knife and family photos among items once personal to a Victorian innovator here. And there are also scientific components from his studies – most notably the lab report recounting his eureka moment – and a whole host of steel products and objects, ranging from the bell of the HMS Sheffield to belly button piercings.

“It is important for Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust to pay tribute to the city’s achievements and we think Harry Brearley deserves a special focus,” says John Hamshere, of Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust, who has overseen the renaming of the room where the exhibition will be held in honour of Brearley.

 “It will showcase objects and documents from the museum collections that explore the science, innovation and industry of stainless steel, as well as giving visitors a real insight into how a Sheffield lad changed the world.

“His legacy can be seen in the science and innovation that still takes place in Sheffield alongside the highly skilled manufacturers that develop new stainless and alloy steels.

“We hope this exhibition will inspire future generations to continue the tradition of scientific and technological progress.”

A local artist, Jason Heppenstall, is asking visitors to donate their old stainless steel cutlery in a collection box inside the exhibition, which he will then mould into a new artwork for the Trust and a tribute to one man’s amazing feat of compound trickery.

  • Open 10am-4pm (11am-4.45pm Sunday, closed Friday and Saturday). Admission £5/£4 (free for under-16s). Follow the museum on Twitter @KelhamIsland‎. The exhibitions are part of the current Galvanize Festival across Sheffield. Read our Preview.

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A photo of a silver coat of arms
A photo of a small model of an ancient ship inside a museum
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