Sheffield Council ‘committed’ to saving Central Library and Graves Gallery building

The need to overhaul Sheffield’s Central Library and Graves Gallery has not dropped off the council’s agenda, the authority has insisted, after the head of the city’s museum service said time was ‘running out’ to keep the building in a functioning state.

Wednesday, 19th February 2020, 12:32 pm

In late 2017 the council, which owns the Grade II-listed Art Deco site on Surrey Street, outlined its ambition to turn the place into a 'cultural hub', moving the library service into new premises costing £20 million in the Heart of the City II scheme.

The proposal emerged when the council admitted the building would not be converted into a five-star hotel - an idea that was part of a failed £1 billion agreement with Chinese investor Sichuan Guodong Group.

There have since been no further announcements, and the structure is falling into disrepair.

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The Central Library and Graves Art Gallery in Sheffield opened in 1934. Picture: Dean Atkins

Recently the gallery has been forced to shut on occasion because of problems with the heating and lights.

Last month Kim Streets, CEO of Museums Sheffield which runs the Graves venue, said: “It needs some serious TLC now. Our team, to their credit, manage the space really very well.

“When it's chilly there are blankets. But it is a challenge."

She added: “We recognise though that we're running out of time.”

Coun Mary Lea, the council’s cabinet member for culture, parks and leisure, said: "We remain committed to ensuring a bright future for the Graves Gallery in the Surrey Street building and to providing a truly 21st century Central Library service for the people of Sheffield.

“Discussions are currently taking place to make sure the development of the Central Library service and its place within the city centre are secured.

“The fate of this landmark building and the valuable service it offers to the general public is in our hands.

“We want to make sure everyone is involved in the future of the Central Library service and the building and when the time is right we will share any progress and seek people’s views on the options available.”

The Central Library opened in 1934. The gallery, on the third floor, was created around a bequest from mail order magnate JG Graves.