University Heritage Collections

The Heritage Collections consist of thousands of objects that the University has acquired since its foundation in 1905. Collections include paintings such as portraits and landscapes, sculpture, medals, university silver, scientific instruments along with two unique museums on campus

Joe Scarborough Our Univeristy
ID: 1517 Our University by Joe Scarborough. © Joe Scarborough
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Discover the University’s Heritage Collections

The Heritage Collection is a unique collection demonstrating the university's diverse history and development towards its position as one of the UK's leading universities.

The diversity of the collections are displayed across the campus, making them accessible to students, staff and the public. Collections are displayed in offices, coffee shops, libraries, study and work spaces and external locations all over the campus. Other areas of the collection is used for teaching and research.

The collection is still being added to through generous donations and commissions and is made accessible to wider audiences through loans out to other institutions. 


Firth Hall Portraits

Firth Hall is part of the original Firth Court building that opened in 1905. It possesses a high vaulted ceiling with large leaded windows and oak panelling. This classical setting provides a formal space for university events such as the University Concerts Series, other musical events, talks and alumni events.

The University Heritage Collections holds almost 100 portraits of which 12 are currently on display in Firth Hall. The portraits include former University of Sheffield’s Vice-Chancellors and leaders, notable academics such as those that have made great contributions to research, teaching, and to the city of Sheffield.

Download more information about the portraits on display in Firth Hall

These portraits commemorate people and their accomplishments, to inspire future generations and leaders. They also portray dedication and contribute to the university’s heritage.

For future development, the university is striving create a fairer representation by promoting equality and diversity within its heritage collection.

Textiles

The University Heritage Collection includes around 12 textile works. Some are framed decorative pieces whereas some are site-specific wall hangings displayed across the campus. 

Graduation (ID: 46) by Diana Springall is currently undergoing conservation and restoration work. This film documents the removal of the textile which took place in April 2021, along with the artwork's history and heritage to the university. 

Graduation by Diana Springall - Heritage Film

Medals

The University Heritage Collection holds over 150 medals. Some of these were presented to students as awards for their research and commitments. 

Mappin Medal
ID: 867 Mappin Medal awarded to David H. R. Whyman in 1933

University Buildings and Landscape 

The University Heritage Collection holds many paintings, prints and architectural drawings depicting some of the buildings on the campus, areas in Sheffield, its surrounding districts and other areas in the UK.

Mappin Building 1913
ID: 882 Mappin Building in 1913, architects drawing.

Scientific collections

The University Heritage Collection holds around 110 scientific items. The collection contains important and unique objects and specimens that reflect the eminence of the world class research carried out at the University through the ages as well as the range of scientific achievement and resources available to students, academics and researchers.

Sextant
ID; 641 Sextant by Troughton, London, 1820

Portraits

The University Heritage Collection holds around 90 portraits of imminent academics as well as prominent personalities from the city of Sheffield. Some of our most remarkable figures are Sir Harry Kroto, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1996, Henry Clifton Sorby, pioneer of microscopical petrography amongst other notable achievements and Sir Frederick Mappin, Sheffield industrialist and benefactor, and Professor Gillian Gehring, the first female professor of Physics at Sheffield to name a few. The portraits are in oil, watercolour and sketches in pastel and pencil. 

Many of the portraits are on display in university buildings associated with the sitter or in Firth Hall where they are seen by staff, students and visitors.

Henry Clifton Sorby
ID: 434 Henry Clifton Sorby (detail), 1898 by Mary Lemmon Waller

Contemporary Collections 

In the University Heritage Collection, we hold a vast number of abstract and conceptual artworks which were either commissioned, purchased or donated to the collection. These artworks are displayed across the campus, in offices, cafes, meeting rooms to fulfil a decorative function and create a vibrant sense of place. 

Squares in Squares
ID: 1226 Squares in Squares by Bob Brighton. © Bob Brighton

University Silver, Silverplate and Metalware

The University Heritage Collection includes around 40 pieces of decorative artwork in silver and metalwork which is used for decoration and events. This collections also includes trophies and plaques, often dedicated to individuals associated with the University. 

Ceremonial Mace
ID: 302 Ceremonial Mace, made in silvergilt by W.W.Scott

 Sculpture and 3D objects

The University Heritage Collection includes around 30 works of sculpture. This collection includes portrait busts of notable academics and alumni, site-specific 3D installations of which some are associated with a department in the University and installed in and outside the department building for prosperity. Many of our sculptures are displayed in public spaces around the campus and are an important feature of the University’s urban planning and to create a vibrant sense of place on the campus.

All works of sculpture from the collection are available on the Art UK website

David Blunkett bust
ID: 957 David Blunkett, 2005 bronze head by Shenda Amery. © Shenda Amery

MA student project : University Heritage Collections Sculpture Map

In 2022, MA History student Murray Wood, created a map of selected sculpture works displayed across campus. The map can be viewed here

A pdf containing all the information about the sculpture works selected for the map can be viewed and downloaded here

As part of the project, Murray has also written a blog about 'Ingots' by Mark Firth which is one of the sculpture works in the collection. This blog is published as part of the University Library's 'Unique and Distinctive Collections' resources. 

Alfred Denny Museum 

The Alfred Denny Museum contains up to 6,000 high quality zoological specimens from across the globe including fossils and samples of extinct species. 

The museum was established in 1905 and named after the department's first professor of biology, Alfred Denny and the collection is regularly used by students and researchers studying towards zoological specimens. The collection includes many specimens which are extinct or are on the verge of extinction. 

This collection comes under the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences and is housed in the Alfred Denny Building on floor D.

Alfred Denny Museum
Alfred Denny Museum of Zoology

Turner Museum of Glass  

Created in 1943 by W. E. S. Turner, the Turner Museum of Glass is one of the UK's most comprehensive collections of nineteenth and twentieth century glass, built from the personal collection of Turner.

Turner was a Professor of Glass Technology at the university, chemist and developed the Society of Glass Making which still exists. Turner's vision and commitment ensured the successful development of glass making techniques as well as a fruitful dialogue between manufacturers and researchers.

The museum is home to one of Britain’s most comprehensive collections of 19th and 20th-century glass, from drinking glasses to contemporary installations.

This collection comes under the Department of Engineering and Scientific Materials and the museum is located on floor E in the Sir Robert Hadfield Building.

Turner Museum of Glass
Turner Museum of Glass