Friday, 31 January 2014

Mappin Art Gallery and City Museum, Weston Park

Mappin Art Gallery and City Museum, Weston Park, Sheffield
Photo by Oosoom at en.wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia)
[GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], from Wikimedia Commons
Steve Does Facts:

The museum first opened in 1875 and was totally refurbished between 2003 and 2006. It attracts 250,000 visitors a year.

The art gallery was closed in the 1950s and 1960s, having been hit by a bomb and partially demolished during the war.
Dinosaurs aren't just ugly, they can also be a major letdown.

The ones in Sheffield's City Museum certainly are.

Mostly because they don't exist.

Nor are there any woolly mammoths, sabre-toothed tigers or even a killer possum to excite the childish imagination.

And so it was that my first ever visit to Sheffield's city museum as a child was a severe disappointment to me.

Still, there were some good things to say about it. It had a stuffed polar bear and it had a bee colony stuck to one of its windows.

On top of that, on the way to it, we went past a genuine skyscraper in the form of the University Arts Tower which, despite it being the tallest building in the city and standing out like a sore thumb in its low level surroundings, I'd up until then somehow totally failed to notice the existence of.

But, of course, the building still manages to be a magical building because it not only contains the city's primary museum but also its major art gallery.

The dual purpose isn't in itself magical. What is magical is that the two buildings are separated by a single glass door in a corridor and that stepping from one building to the other really does feel like you're doing something strangely forbidden, even though you're not. I can only compare it to the feeling you used to get whilst using that mysterious subterranean tunnel that once linked Redgates toy shop to the former Quadrant Stationers.

It's strange how a building that lacks magic through its lack of monsters can instead have a sense of magic through having something as humble as a door.

And perhaps that's why doors still exist and dinosaurs are long gone. If only dinosaurs had had the cunning of doors, maybe, just maybe, they too would still be with us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember we spent what seemed like hours staring at the bees on the wall. I still feel an almost abnormal amount of sad affection for the buzzing, stripey little chaps....Also, we used to enter the art competition and lose every year....happy days

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