Plans for a New Museum
Ruskin's plans for the St George's Museum developed over time, evolving in response to a succession of problems and opportunities.

Enlargement of Walkley Premises

Ruskin initially envisaged an enlargement of the Walkley property, with a separate residence for the curator built on adjoining land.

The need for larger premises was such that many objects had to be kept in store. In Ruskin's words, these treasures were left 'lying in lavender' (Works, 29, p. 397). Among them, he lamented, were 'casts from St. Mark's, of sculptures never cast before [...] invisible and useless till I can build walls for them'.

Plans for a Museum at Endcliffe

In 1880, Ruskin used a letter in Fors Clavigera to ask the public to help him realize plans for a new building. He had in mind 'a working man's Bodleian Library', asking the architect E. R. Robson to produce preliminary designs.

It was initially proposed that 'the building should be of red brick, faced with the marbles of Derbyshire' (Works, 30, p. 315). Robson objected that 'neither Derbyshire nor any other marbles would stand in our climate', and argued for granite instead. Robson quoted an estimated cost of £5000.

Although several sites for the new museum were considered, a piece of land on the Endcliffe Hall estate (West Sheffield) was the focus of attention.

The plans for this museum were eventually aborted. This was due to a series of delays, and a legal problem that prevented Ruskin vesting the property of the Guild in the hands of the City.


Ruskin then turned his attention to land the Guild owned in the Worcestershire locality of Bewdley. There, he hoped to construct a new museum.

This scheme was announced in Ruskin's Report to the Guild of January 1885, in which he invited financial support from the public. He commissioned designs for this museum from the architect Joseph Southall. Drawn up in 1884-6, they are now part of the Ruskin Collection.

Ruskin's calls for public support did not meet with success. As a result, he was forced to abandon this last attempt to open a purpose-built home for his museum.

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