Ruskin declared the chief aim of the Museum to be the 'liberal education of the artizan' (Works
, 30, p. 39). The addresses listed in the Museum's visitor book indicate that he was successful in attracting members of that social group.
The words of the Museum's curator seem to confirm Ruskin's success in reaching a socially diverse audience:
'in the museum there are many things which prove to be charming in the eyes of the rough and hard workmen and we've not had a single instance of anything but most pleasing and reverent attention -- nothing approaching even the slightest degree to rude or flippant behaviour in the them' (Swan to Bunney).
In a letter to Ruskin dated 18 October 1876, Swan reports that 'The interest in the Museum seems still increasing':
'Yesterday (Sunday), in addition to our usual allotment of casual calls at the Museum, we had a visit from a party of working men; two or three of them from Barnsley, but the most Sheffielders, among which vast were several of those who came to meet thee on the last occasion.' (Works
, 28, p. 747). National and International Visitors
Ruskin's fame ensured that the Museum attracted the attention of visitors from other cities and other countries.
A journalist reporting on a visit to the Museum wrote that 'It is interesting to note the places from which pilgrims have come -- London, Leeds, Hull, Manchester, Chester, Birmingham, Canada, New York, Australia, and even China' (The Pall Mall Gazette
, 14 May 1886).Notable Visitors
Ruskin's most famous visitor was Queen Victoria's son, Prince Leopold, whom Ruskin had taught at Oxford. Prince Leopold visited Sheffield in 1879 to open Firth College, a forerunner of the University of Sheffield.
After performing his official duties, the Prince visited the St George's Museum at Walkley. It is hard to imagine such a small space playing host to a royal visit, though it seems to have passed off successfully.
The Prince was given a bust of Ruskin as a souvenir. The bust was the work of Benjamin Creswick, a young grinder who had walked in to the Museum one day and been inspired to develop his talents as a sculptor.