Story: Liz Searle
Kim Streets, the new Chief Executive of Museums Sheffield, lives in Burngreave. I went to meet her and find out what it's like working in Sheffield's arts and heritage.
“I started twenty-one years ago," Kim explains, "During my time here I've been involved in lots of exciting projects. I had good opportunities and made the most of them, and this post seemed like the next logical step.”
Comments from people around the city, and on the Museums Sheffield website following Kim's appointment, show the huge amount of support for her in this new role. One quote stands out:
“There's nobody better for the job or to build on Nick Dodd's achievements. Many of us in Sheffield know how much you have worked out of your role especially as regards Sheffield Castle artifacts. You are a Sheffielder and know what MS and particularly Weston Park means to us.” (Ron Clayton)
Times are tough financially, but Kim is confident that Museums Sheffield will weather the massive restructure which will see forty people leaving. “It's very hard,” she states, “because people have really given it their all – it's a labour of love for everyone.”
After completing a history degree at Sheffield Hallam University, Kim volunteered at Kelham Island Museum and worked on heritage research at Globe Works. Her first post was Assistant Keeper of Social History – collections of people's stories and items that say something about their lives.
“One of my favourite projects was an exhibition called High Rise. Working with the residents of Park Hill, an artist called Tim Smith collected their stories and opinions about where they lived.”
Kim worked on the book Burngreave Voices which told the stories of many local residents. Living in the heart of the area since 1992, she describes how welcoming it is for newcomers.
“People here are very friendly, and living here gives people from all over the world the freedom to settle and put down new roots. It definitely feels like home. It's also very beautiful – I love the cemetery and parks, and buildings like the old chip shop and the Tollgate house.”
Kim enthuses about the excitement of people telling their own stories and how she hopes more Sheffield people will get involved in the museums' collections.
“When the museum first opened in the 1870s there was no other way for Sheffield people to see things from the past or other countries. The collections belong to the people of Sheffield.and the arts give us something to be proud of, an identity”.
At the moment, you can see Andy Warhol's late self-portraits at the Graves Gallery, artist Paul Morrison's show at the Millennium Galleries, and an exhibition from the V&A Museum of Childhood called ‘Magic Worlds’ at Weston Park.