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A painted banner across the nave of Sheffield Cathedral A painted banner across the nave of Sheffield Cathedral

Goshka Macuga, Plus Ultra, 2009. Courtesy the artist and Kate MacGarry, London. Photo © Andy Brown.

Goshka Macuga, Plus Ultra, 2009. Courtesy the artist and Kate MacGarry, London. Photo © Andy Brown.

Developing connections between public museums and private collections.

Every major city in the UK collects art for the benefit of its people and philanthropic bequests from private collectors have been the foundation of many great public collections, Sheffield’s included.

With reduced or non-existent acquisitions funds the relationship between private collectors and public galleries continues to be fundamental but what has changed and what needs to? Where are the philanthropists of the future, and how should public galleries and private collections work together to make great art available to everyone?

Going Public: International Art Collectors in Sheffield
 was conceived to explore how public galleries and philanthropists can better develop meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships. Co-originated by Mark Doyle and Sebastien Montabonel, and led by Sheffield Museums, the project was launched in 2015, bringing work from some of Europe’s finest private collections of contemporary and 20th century art to Sheffield in a citywide series of exhibitions, accompanied by a major summit which asked the question ‘How can public art institutions unlock the potential of philanthropy?’.

The inaugural Going Public was a partnership between Sheffield Museums, Sheffield Cathedral, Sheffield Hallam University’s Sheffield Institute of Arts Gallery and Site Gallery. The project was supported by Arts Council England, The Henry Moore Foundation, Montabonel & Partners, Sheffield City Council and Sheffield Hallam University.

Authored by Louisa Buck, Contemporary Art Columnist for The Art Newspaper, The Going Public Report presents the conclusions from the Going Public summit. The report brings together views from leading museum directors, philanthropists and industry experts to create a new consensus on the opportunities for collaboration which could help protect the future of regional museums and galleries. The Going Public Report was made possible with the generous support of Nicolas Cattelain.



Going Public - The Kirkland Collection at the Graves Gallery

Image © Sheffield Museums

Going Public: International Art Collectors in Sheffield continued in 2016 with Going Public – The Napoleone Collection an exhibition of highlights drawn from the collection of Valeria Napoleone, the foremost collector of work by women contemporary artists.

Supported by Art Fund, the exhibition at the Graves Gallery was accompanied by the first in a series of seminar events which see regional museums and gallery professionals explore the practical considerations of creating meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships with private collectors. 

Going Public returned to the Graves Gallery in autumn 2017 with Going Public - The Kirkland Collection, curated by Jack Kirkland from his personal collection, and was once again generously supported by Art Fund. The exhibition, which brought together work by Carl Andre, Donald Judd, Josef Albers, Anni Albers, Bridget Riley, Lewis Baltz and more, was accompanied by the second in our seminar series providing practical insight into effective collaboration between public galleries and collectors.





Visitors to the Lines of Beauty: Master Drawings from Chatsworth exhibition at the Millennium Gallery

Photo © Andy Brown

In 2018 Sheffield Museum’s work through Going Public brought together three of the UK’s most significant private art collections on public display to explore art’s boundless capacity to affect our emotions.

Featuring highlights from the Fleming Collection, the Ingram Collection and the Jerwood Collection, Darkness into Light: The Emotional Power of Art took visitors through a spectrum of emotional states, from fear and anxiety to happiness, hope and serenity. The exhibition showcased work by some of Britain’s best-loved artists, including Elizabeth Blackadder, David Bomberg, Elisabeth Frink, Peter Howson, Chantal Joffe, HaYoung Kim, R.B.Kitaj, C.R.W. Nevinson, Eduardo Paolozzi, Fiona Rae, Eric Ravilious, Anne Redpath and Graham Sutherland.

Sheffield Museums continued to develop relationships between private collections and public galleries in 2020 through a major collaboration with Chatsworth.

The Devonshire collection of Old Master drawings is one of the finest private drawings collections in the world. Spanning 300 years, these unparalleled works represent some of the true masters of their craft, including Carpaccio, Poussin, Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck and more.

Lines of Beauty: Master Drawings from Chatsworth at the Millennium Gallery presented over 50 highlights from the collection, spanning portraiture, landscapes, classical and religious narratives, in the largest display of the drawings for more than 20 years.

In 2021 Going Public continued at the Millennium Gallery in a collaboration with the Roberts Institute of Art. Earthbound: Contemporary Landscape in Art brought together works from the David and Indrė Roberts Collection, alongside examples from Sheffield’s own visual art collection, to investigate our relationship with our environment.

The works on display spanned land art, landscape paintings, video installation, sculpture and photography, by contemporary artists including Helen Chadwick, Richard Long, Dan Holdsworth, Miroslaw Balka, Theaster Gates and Berlinde De Bruyckere.

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