Graves Gallery

City Centre

Surrey Street, S1 1XZ
0114 278 2600

Open Tuesday & Thursday-Saturday 11am-4pm, Wednesday 1-6pm. Entry is free.

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Graves Gallery

Tucked away on the third floor of the Central Library, the Graves can feel like a bit of a secret. Admittedly, we quite like it that way. But we really wouldn’t want any art fan to miss this place off their must-visit gallery list.

When you reach the top floor, by stairs or by the rickety lift, take a second to look down the stairwell before you head into the gallery: a beautiful cascade of blue and purple falls downwards like an excited flock of birds, in an installation woven by Sheffield-based artist Seiko Kinoshita. Now, go and lose yourself in the gallery’s art and splendour.

Opened in 1934 thanks largely to funding and artwork donated by its namesake, the mail-order pioneer and local philanthropist J.G. Graves, the gallery’s collection spans from the 16th century to the present day. Progressing in chronological order – from portraits of ruff-wearing aristocrats to colourful contemporary abstractions – the permanent galleries include works by J.M.W. Turner, Paul Cézanne, Bridget Riley, Patrick Caulfield, and Sam Taylor-Wood – as well as a Damien Hirst piece lent by Jarvis Cocker. 

The temporary exhibition programme, meanwhile, never fails to throw up something interesting; in recent years, it has included the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol’s self-portraits, and the radical vision of the Blk Art Group. The gallery is also one of the main venues for Art Sheffield, the city’s biannual contemporary art festival.

We love stumbling upon the little cafe around the half-way point and hiding away from the world for a while. And the gallery's gift shop is our go-to place for birthday cards. While you’re in the building, have a look around the library on the ground floor and, if you’re in luck, you may be able to catch a talk or a play down in the basement at the Library Theatre.

Written by Kathryn Hall; May 31, 2016
Photography by Nigel Barker.