Weston Park Museum

Museums Sheffield: curator talks botanical collection

On Tuesday 23 January, between 1pm-1.45pm, listen to a curator for Museums Sheffield talk about the historical botany collection at the Weston Park Museum- for free.

Museums Sheffield looks after Sheffield’s historical botany collections, home to an ancient Strawberry Clover (Trifolium fragiferum) collected in London in 1773, among many other specimens. Join Alistair McLean, our Natural Sciences curator, to find out more about this important and unique collection, and some of the important names associated with it.

Find more information at: http://www.museums-sheffield.org.uk/whats-on/events/2018/1/sheffields-historical-botanical-collections1

Small Stories: At Home in a Doll’s House

Copyright of Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Copyright of Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Weston Park Museum hosts ‘Small Stories: At Home in a Doll’s House’, an exhibition which takes visitors on a journey through the history of the home through 12 intricately crafted doll houses spanning over 300 years.

On tour from the V&A Museum of Childhood, the exhibition sees country mansions, suburban villas, newly-built council estates and high-rise apartments tell the tales of marriages, parties, politics and crime, as each house is brought to life by the characters that live and work there.

The houses show developments in architecture and design, from ornate Georgian townhouses to contemporary urban living spaces. Each house is displayed in interactive showcases that allow visitors to activate audio narration and illuminate characters as they share their story.

Kirstie Hamilton, Head of Exhibitions and Displays at Museums Sheffield, said “we’re delighted to continue our partnership with the V&A with this exhibition. Small Stories offers a unique window on how we used to live through these wonderful examples of meticulous craftsmanship, some of the stars of the V&A Museum of Childhood’s collection. We’re thrilled to be able to bring the exhibition to Sheffield to share with our visitors at Weston Park Museum.”

The V&A Museum of Childhood’s collections will be complemented by a dolls’ house from Sheffield’s own collection dating from around 1900, on show in the museum’s main thoroughfare. The house was made for a little girl called Dorothy. When she was young she pronounced her own name as “Dophy”, and called the house ‘Dophy Villa’. The house has working electric lights and was decorated with contemporary wallpaper and flooring.

Other highlights of the exhibition include 19030s hedonistic haven, a home prepared for WW2 and a modern, millennial house:

Whiteladies House was designed and by artist Moray Thomas in the 1930 and reflects some of the Modernist country villas that were emerging at the time. Features include chrome furniture, a cocktail bar and artworks by British Futurist Claude Flight, as well as a swimming pool. Its story centres on a house party, with revellers enjoying the pool and sunbathing on the roof.

The Hopkinson House is based on the houses in 1930s suburbs. The interiors show a Second World War-era family in intricate detail, poised for an air-raid, with miniature gasmasks, ration books and torches for the blackouts.

Kaleidoscope House (2011) was house was designed by Laurie Simmons. Its multi-coloured translucent walls are filled with miniature replicas of furniture and artworks by Ron Arad, Cindy Sherman and Barbara Kruger. The house is home to a design conscious step-family living in the new millennium.

The exhibition is open to the public until 7th January and entrance is free.




Picturing Sheffield at the Weston Park Museum

One exhibition which encapsulates both the rural and urban beauty of Sheffield is ‘Picturing Sheffield’ at the Weston Park Museum. Just one room is enough to capture the famously industrial yet green landscape of Sheffield throughout the last 200 years. The exhibition takes you from Sheffield’s earlier history to the city’s present state through four main themes: portraits of the city, lost Sheffield, city of industry and Sheffield at leisure.

Portraits of the city conveys Sheffield through the eyes of various different artists, in various different styles. Patchwork hills hang alongside darker, more abstract paintings like Mark Wilson’s ‘Sheffield from Meersbrook Park’ which uses warm, purple hues to show the city’s skyline in a modern and elegant way. Nearby, a painting from 1840, by an unknown artist, depicts Kelham Island using bright, jolly colours and gives an insight into what Kelham Island, renowned for being one of Sheffield’s trendiest areas, would have looked like over 100 years ago. Emily Taylor uses a ceramic vase to give a more urban take on Sheffield as she etches a young couple, wearing a hoody and hoop earrings, looking out onto a very built up view of the city.

Lost Sheffield gives precious detail about features of the city which no longer exist. The 19th century artist James Poole captured ‘Donati’s Comet’, a comet seen shooting over Sheffield in 1958, over Little London Dam- a dam which no longer remains. Meanwhile, ‘Hole in the Road’, a painting from Anthony Lowe in 1986, pictures the network of shops and underpasses under the roundabout near Arundel Gate. Demolished in the 1990s to accommodate the Supertram, the Castle Square tram stop marks the area today.

City of industry promotes the rich industrial heritage of the city. Once known as a ‘steel city’, the prominence of Sheffield’s steel industry through its history cannot be ignored. Snapshots of the insides of steel factories and the workers that operated them are shown through an array of paintings. Robert Penistone’s 2008 painting depicts a vivid orange scene of an open hearth furnace. The almost cartoon-like portrait observes the factory floor mid-shift, dotted with factory workers chatting, reading the newspapers and, of course, supervising the furnace.

Sheffield at leisure is the final yet most exciting section of the exhibition. Vibrant cityscapes offer a fun and refreshing portrayal of Sheffield. ‘A Perfect Day’ by Pete McKee shows a middle-aged couple and their dog enjoying a hillside picnic with wine and a vinyl record player, peacefully reflecting on some of the city’s landmarks, like City Hall and the Arts Tower. Jo Peel captures Owlerton Stadium, Sheffield’s greyhound racing track devoid of spectators and grey hounds whilst Joe Scarborough portrays a very different scene of, what looks like, the entire population of Sheffield enjoying a party in the streets. The lively atmosphere, filled with live bands, swishing skirts and busy bar staff is tangible.

Picturing Sheffield is a permanent exhibition at the Weston Park Museum. If grey skies cast a shadow over the, usually, bright views of the city then head down to see a more vibrant display.