Museums Sheffield: Weston Park

Children stare in wonder at Weston Park, Sheffield

Weston Park’s impressive archeology, natural history, decorative art and social history collections have been diverting and educating the citizens of Sheffield since 1875. A recent £19 million renovation project has breathed new life into these collections, leaving the museum with a new name and a bright, modern interior filled with imaginative displays.

Families are particularly well served here, with five excellent “family trails” available to help younger visitors explore the different galleries and engage with their contents, (check the website for regular family events). Along the way, kids get to build an igloo or visit the Arctic Story Corner, crawl through a tunnel beneath a replica of an old oak tree, see a full-size stuffed rhinoceros, watch bees at work in their hive, cycle a static bike around a simulated course of the park, create their own music, and much more besides. There’s plenty to command adults’ attention, too, from Anglo-Saxon burial offerings to relics from the Crimean War. Perhaps the most evocative exhibits are the personal stories and mementos in the Sheffield Life and Times gallery.

For tips on getting to Weston Park, check the helpful website in advance. There are six Blue Badge spaces and regular street parking on Mushroom Lane, to the side of the museum, around twenty or thirty yards from the entrance, though be prepared for a fairly steep gradient and a poor surface. The beautiful listed building that houses the museum is now fully accessible following its recent refurbishment. The galleries and the café are all on the ground floor (along with three accessible toilets), and there’s lift access up to the first-floor activity rooms and picnic area (where there’s another accessible toilet). In addition, many of the interactive exhibits are at a low level, within easy reach of children and wheelchair users, and there are wheelchairs available to borrow. A number of the exhibits have audio displays, and some one-off talks and events are BSL-intepreted. Some of the signage is in Braille (phone in advance to request information in Braille) and there are large-print information folders in each gallery. Outside, the pretty grounds are served by smooth-surfaced paths and plenty of benches.

Food & drink: The on-site Terrace Café is spacious, light and airy, with moveable seating, and provides a wide range of light meals, including plenty of children’s options. There’s also an indoor picnic area on the first floor, or you can picnic in the grounds.