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Graves Art Gallery facts for kids

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Graves Art Gallery is an art gallery in Sheffield, England. The gallery is located above the Central Library in Sheffield city centre. It houses permanent displays from the city’s historic and contemporary collection of British and European art along with a programme of temporary exhibitions.

The collection encapsulates the story of the development of art. The main trends and movements are traced through works by many artists, from JMW Turner, Alfred Sisley and Sir Stanley Spencer, to Helen Chadwick, Marc Quinn and Bridget Riley. The gallery is managed by Museums Sheffield.


The Graves Art Gallery was built with the support of business man John George Graves, who made his fortune out of one of the country’s earliest mail order businesses. Graves also gifted his art collection of almost 700 paintings, much of which can still be seen today. Other benefactors include John Newton Mappin, of Mappin and Webb.

The Central Library and Graves Gallery (on its 3rd floor) was opened in July 1934 dedicated to ‘the service of knowledge and art’. It was a state of the art facility fitted with ‘heating…by invisible panel system’, ‘artificial ventilation’, ‘synchronised electric clocks’ and five lifts.

The gallery's first director was John Rothenstein, who became director of the Tate Gallery. The painter, George Hamilton Constantine followed from 1938 until the 1950s. Rothenstein and Constantine were key figures in broadening the 20th century British collection which Graves had begun. The search for individual pieces of outstanding significance and quality characterised their vision with works by Walter Sickert, Harold Gilman, Gwen John, C R W Nevinson, Jacob Epstein, Stanley Spencer, William Roberts, Paul Nash, Christopher Wood, David Bomberg, L S Lowry, John Minton, Henry Moore, Keith Vaughan, Prunella Clough and Frank Auerbach purchased for the city.

During the late 1980s acquisitions all but ceased due to financial constraints. Museums Sheffield revived acquisitions in 1999 with the support of the Contemporary Art Society, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Art Collections Fund and private benefactors. In recent years renewed enthusiasm for and commitment to contemporary art has enabled the purchase of significant contemporary art works such as Marc Quinn’s Kiss and Sam Taylor-Wood’s Self-Portrait Suspended VII with support from J.G.Graves Charitable Trust, the Art Fund and the V&A Purchase Grant Fund.

In 2009 the gallery was refurbished and re-hung based around key themes. Significant recent temporary exhibitions include The Blk Art Group and Andy Warhol: Late Self-Portraits.

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