A treasure trove of art deco: a new exhibition explores and records Sheffield’s Central Library


The Central Library is one of the iconic buildings of the city center and, walking past it every day, it’s sometimes easy to take it for granted. But, last year, when there was talk of the building being turned into a luxury hotel, many people looked at the Grade Two listed building afresh and were eager that it remained the property of the city.
Opened in 1934 the building is home to The Library Theatre, the Graves Gallery and the central library. JG Graves – the local businessman and philanthropist responsible for many gifts to the city – donated, not only money towards the building, but also his private art collection to be on show in the top floor art gallery. .
Many of the building’s original features remain as well as interesting nods towards the history of the city – a crack across the entrance floor was caused by a World War Two bomb blast.
The building boasts a committed band of regular users – from its day to day library visitors to those who explore the city’s art collection in The Graves. It also hosts numerous local history and art groups.
And it was from this group of regulars that a group of about 15 users came together to use art to record the unique features of the building and to showcase what an important venue it is for Sheffield. They use various art mediums to encourage us to look again at the details of the buildings – from its air vents to its entrance stone carvings – and to make us question what would be lost if the building slipped into commercial use.
Their exhibition was originally shown at The Art House last year (as well as at The Workstation) but, as the hotel project has now been replaced by an idea for the space to become a Cultural Hub for the city – they have added new images and details.
The exhibition is currently at The Montgomery Theatre on Surrey Street until the 27th April and is well worth a visit.