Something different is coming to Kelham Island Museum in Sheffield. Among the stories of steel, the immense power of the River Don Engine and the makers in Little Mesters lane, a new creative response to the city’s industrial collection is finding its voice.

Kelham Island Museum, part of Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust, is home to 80,000 objects that tell the story of the people, power and processes behind Sheffield’s industrial heritage. Now, artist Mel Brimfield and composer Gwyneth Herbert will be working together to highlight the transformative power of culture in a time of unprecedented funding cuts in both the NHS and the arts. Brimfield and Herbert will be running a series of workshops to capture voices as part of the creation of a new immersive sound installation, working closely with the UK Men’s Sheds extensive network.

This exhibition has been brought together as part of the Meeting Point programme, which is coordinated by contemporary arts agency Arts&Heritage. By connecting contemporary artists with heritage sites, Meeting Point encourages museums to take risks and try something new. At Kelham Island Museum, the organisers cannot wait to see the audience response to this powerful, important and creative installation. The museum is loved by many, and it is delighted to be working with Brimfield and Herbert to bring out new stories and connections.

Stephanie Allen, executive director of Arts&Heritage, said: “Mel Brimfield’s collaboration with Gwyneth Herbert highlights the role artists can play to bring a fresh perspective on our shared heritage. In the case of the Kelham Island Museum commission, the artists will draw on the history of making and collaborate with local people to celebrate the industrial and craft skills of people to create an ambitious new installation, showing the museum’s collection in a new light.”

Washington Old HallKelham Island is undergoing a rapid transformation. As a 900-year-old man-made island, Kelham Island continues to inspire as a creative corner of Sheffield. The exhibition will be opening in January 2020 and will launch a new programme of contemporary art in the museum.

Brimfield said: “Composer Gwyneth Herbert and I are delighted to be working with Kelham Island Museum – we’re drawing together Men’s Shed Association members from across the UK to work in collaboration with us. It’s already shaping up to be an absolute treat to work with such an extraordinary army of makers and enthusiasts.”

Kelham Island Museum is one of six museums and heritage sites across the North which are partnering with contemporary artists as part of the Meeting Point programme. The other venues and artists taking part are Sophie Dixon working with Grace Darling Museum (Bamburgh, Northumberland); Lindsey Mendick and Dominic Watson working with Washington Old Hall (Washington, Tyne and Wear); Ed Kluz working with Colne Valley Museum (Huddersfield, Yorkshire); Tod Hanson working with Port Sunlight (Wirral, Merseyside); and Susan Stockwell working with Warrington Museum & Art Gallery (Warrington, Cheshire).

Grace Darling Museum, photo by Colin Davison Further details of the individual artists’ commissions will be released later in the year, and the Kelham Island Museum commission will be unveiled in January 2020 before touring to The Tetley in Leeds and Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, as part of an exhibition of work by Brimfield.

By Chris Keady, Museum Manager at Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust


Find out more about the museums and artists taking part in Meeting Point at