There’s an abundance of Sheffield history to be explored at Weston Park Museum and its green and pleasant environs. Housed in an impressive neo-classical building and set in a landscaped park, the museum was the subject of a major Lottery-funded restoration programme between 2003 and 2006. Its dark rooms and Victorian glass cabinets have been swept away to make room for a brighter, well-interpreted and family-friendlier journey through Sheffield’s past.
Take a trip through Sheffield’s woodlands and interact with the creatures who live there, from furry friends to mini-beasts, or travel back to ancient times and wonder at a life-sized woolly rhino, sharks and giant millipedes. With its own beehive and ant colony – not forgetting its weather station – Weston Park is expert at bringing the natural world alive.
For younger visitors, the Arctic World room is always a hit. Before the museum closed for refurbishment, visitors voted for their favourite museum object, and Snowy the polar bear won hands down. Local children helped to shape the experience of the Arctic World, where you can meet Snowy for yourself or build your own mini igloo.
The Treasures gallery shares some of Sheffield’s finest objects from the World Cultures collection, where you can understand more about the diverse cultures and their treasures that make the city what it is today.
If you’re interested in Sheffield’s social history, make a beeline for the Life and Times room. Learn about what’s shaped the city through the voices of its people: from neolithic carvings in the Peak District to its proud steelmaking heritage; the dark days of the miner’s strike and to gradual regeneration, there’s never a dull moment.
Once you’ve had your fill of history, pop into the museum’s cafe for refreshment, or grab a sandwich and stroll outside to Weston Park, originally gardens to the Weston Hall (in which the museum resides) and the first municipal park in the city. Highlights include the glorious restored bandstand – which is now used as a venue for events – and the towering brutalist grandeur of the University Arts Tower, one of Sheffield’s most iconic landmarks, visible from almost everywhere in this hilly city.