Exhibitions and Engagement
We offer an exciting programme of collection led exhibitions, talks and events at Western Bank Library and other venues.
All our exhibitions and events are free and open to the public.
The Special Collections, Heritage, and Archives Team work with our academics and communities to create a dynamic, accessible and engaging exhibition programme to showcase our unique and fascinating collections.
It's All a Show: Fairground Showmen, Identity and Mental Health
5 February - 16 June 2024
Our current exhibition at the Western Bank Library explores what it means to be a Showman in the twenty-first century and the relationship between being part of this community and mental health.
It showcases ground-breaking research by PhD candidate and Showman Sheldon Chadwick to provide a platform for honest and open conversations about mental health, combatting stigmatisation and how to promote collective understanding.
Below is a short video introduction for the It's All a Show exhibition
Ghosted Ground: an exhibition by Joanna Whittle
24th July - 10th December 2023
Ghosted Ground is an exciting new exhibition from award winning landscape artist Joanna Whittle. The exhibition is the result of an Arts Council England funded project, during which Joanna studied collections from the University and Sheffield’s National Fairground and Circus Archive and worked with people from the fairground, circus and other community groups to inspire and create new work.
In the exhibition Joanna explores otherness and un-connectedness whilst uncovering human themes of mourning, love and movement across the landscape. These landscapes are central to the stories being told on the movement of people and the traces they leave behind, where the landscape becomes haunted by their absence, a ghosted ground of echoes.
Further Ghosted Ground films are available on the University of Sheffield Player.
We welcome your feedback and comments about the exhibition.
Please click on this link to help us improve our exhibitions in the future Below is a short video introduction to the Ghosted Ground exhibition by Joanna Whittle
Ghosted Ground Exhibition Talks and Panel Discussion - University of Sheffield - 8 September 2023
Joanna Whittle introduces a series of talks and panel discussions around the exhibition.
Please see the links below to film of the event:
Monday 23rd January - Sunday 25th June 2023
The Power of Creativeness: Champernowne, Withymead, Jung
Opening times: Monday—Friday 9am to 7pm. Saturday—Sunday 12pm to 6pm
This exhibition explores the archive of Irene Champernowne which was donated by the Champernowne Trust to Special Collections.
Irene Champernowne (1901-1976) was a leading psychotherapist in the UK, who pioneered the integrating power of creativeness to improve mental health and whose vision was to make psychotherapy available to all. Influenced by Carl Jung’s psychoanalytic theories, Champernowne pioneered art therapy as a source of treatment which is still used in today’s therapeutic practices.
This exhibition tells the story of Champernowne’s journey, the stories of communities and the people who supported and influenced her, and the ongoing legacy of her work through current and new creativity.
Showcasing some of Champernowne’s archive, donated by The Champernowne Trust, a charity who continue holding events and workshops, influenced by the powerful creative legacy which Champernowne has left.
Below is a short video introduction to The Power of Creativeness by Professor Brendan Stone from the School of English.
24 January – 11 June 2022
Engineering Fun: The Story of Orton & Spooner
An exhibition of over two hundred original drawings, plans and photographs from the Orton and Spooner Collection, made possible by a grant from the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust (NMCT) and the University of Sheffield Library.
George Orton, Sons & Spooner Ltd were one of the most significant fairground ride and equipment manufacturers in Britain between the Victorian era and the middle of the twentieth century. The exhibition explores the history of the company, the evolution of fairground rides, fairground architecture, physics and engineering and fairground art.
Take a 360 tour of the Orton & Spooner exhibition to discover highlights of the collections on display by clicking on the hotspots.
If you would like to host an exhibition with us, please read our Aims of the Exhibition and Display Programme and email us with your interest:
Our exhibitions programme is planned in advance and approved by the Library Exhibitions Group.
The Library’s Special Collections, Heritage, and Archives Team works with a diverse range of academics, creatives and communities on many different projects and events throughout the area.
We undertake a variety of outreach and engagement activities such as teaching sessions, attending fairs and festivals, and local community workshops.
University Heritage Collection and Festival of the Mind Project:
The University Heritage Collections and Department of Chemistry collaborated and took part in the Festival of the Mind 2022.
‘Kunststoff: Plastic – The Material of Art’ is a project initiated by Professor Tony Ryan from the Department of Chemistry and the Heritage Collections Manager, collaborated with local sculptor Anthony Bennett, to create a new artwork by repurposing of redundant plastic materials generated from the restoration project of the ‘Graduation’ textile artwork by Diana Springall which is part of the University Heritage Collection.
Find out more about Kunststoff and Festival of the Mind 2022.
The National Fairground and Circus Archive are on Facebook and Twitter:
NFCA TwitterSpecial Collections are on Twitter:
We also have short films available on You Tube:
Telephone: 0114 222 7299