Whether you're learning and playing, exploring and discovering or wanting to relax and enjoy, our exhibitions will tick every box. From the young to the young at heart we try and tailor all our exhibitions so that there is something for every visitor to enjoy.
Daring Detectives & Dastardly Deeds
Housed in our original Victorian police cells, discover the intriguing history of 19th century crime and punishment in our new exhibition, Daring Detectives & Dastardly Deeds. Learn about the life of a bobby on the beat and meet some of the thieves, forgers and murderers that stalked the darkened streets.
Featuring star items from the newly-acquired archive of Donald Sutherland Swanson, the detective in charge of the Jack the Ripper case, including the 'marginalia' in which Swanson names the man he believed to be the infamous Whitechapel murderer. With other original documents, weaponry and objects on show, this exhibition gets you up close and personal with the police and their prey. Try your hand at solving a crime, see if you could cut it as a 'peeler' and experience life in the cells.
This exhibition has been created thanks to support from South Yorkshire Police, private collectors, other museums and universities from around the UK.
Guarding the Coast
To mark the 200th birthday of HM Coastguard, we’ve worked with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the National Maritime Museum Cornwall (NMMC) to develop Guarding the Coast; a brand new exhibition that tells the story of the Coastguard and explores its role as one of the UK’s emergency services.
Featuring objects from the collection of HM Coastguard (which is in the care of NESM), many of which have never been on public display before, the exhibition celebrates the men and women who dedicated themselves to saving lives at sea, explore the changing technology used by crews over the last two centuries, and the continuing contribution of the Coastguard at sea and on land.
In a unique collaboration for NESM, the exhibition is running concurrently at its museum in Sheffield and at the NMMC in Falmouth. It has been funded by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency as part of its 200th birthday celebrations.
For King and Country
For King & Country explores the role police, fire, ambulance and lifeboat personnel played during World War I, both on the front line and at home, and the lasting impact the conflict had on the development of the emergency services.
From the millions of men who left the police and fire service to 'do their bit' as ordinary soldiers, to the women who took the opportunities war presented to prove themselves in a man's world, this exhibition uncovers some of the lesser-known heroes of World War I.
Included in the exhibition - housed in a recreated trench dugout - and helping to tell these stories are a collection of unique and historic objects, many of them on display at our museum for the first time.
Fiery Blaze to Fire Brigades
If we need the fire brigade, we ring 999 and we know help will be on the way. But what did people do about before the advent of organised fire brigades?
The Fiery Blaze to Fire Brigades exhibition tells the story of the birth of the modern fire service. from the Great Fire of London through to the 1920s. It explores how the early insurance brigades - which would only attend a fire if they were paid - grew into more professional, organised crews.
With displays including fire pumps, equipment and uniforms dating back two hundred years, discover the amazing history of the fire brigade.
Blood, Bandages and Blue Lights
Our cobbled courtyard once housed Sheffield's first free public ambulance, making it the perfect location to house our Blood, Bandages and Blue Lights exhibition.
This exhibition was created to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the National Health Service in 2018 and is being revamped this year to mark the 75th. It tells the story of the development of the UK ambulance service, including the vital work of the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) ambulance service during World War II, and first aiders.
Among the vehicles on display is one of the UK's oldest surviving horse-drawn ambulances, which originally served in Barnsley in 1885. Explore other vintage vehicles, try your hand as a paramedic and learn about some 20th century pioneers of the service.
The Engine House
The Engine House has been the home to fire engines for more than 120 years. Originally built to house three horse drawn engines when this was a working fire station, the museum now displays some of its own collection of historic fire vehicles in this space.
From hand-pulled parish pumps to motorised vehicles - including a 1938 Leyland which is the last remaining engine to have served in the Sheffield Blitz - there is plenty for visitors to explore.
See exhibits on display that tell more about the fire service at the turn of the century and learn more about the development of vehicles and technology, from horse-drawn to steam power and on to motor power.
The Blitz played a significant part in the history of the emergency services with the formalisation of the NFS (National Fire Service), the use of police officers as stretcher bearers and even the use of Boy Scouts as rescuers!
Our recreated Blitzed house sets the scene of these dark nights and uses lights, sounds, smoke and smells to bring the 1940s to life. Sit inside a air raid shelter and listen to stories told by people who lived through the air raids.
Climb inside our Austin K2 fire engine and let the voice of the last surviving fireman to serve in the Sheffield Blitz tell his story.
200 years of saving animals' lives
Hosted in our temporary display space on the first floor of the museum, this new mini-exhibition opened in August 2023. Curated by the RSPCA, it celebrates the animal welfare charity's 200th anniversary next year and showcases the lifesaving work of the RSPCA over two centuries. As well as learning about the amazing work of the charity, visitors are also encouraged to try their hand at rescuing a sheep from a cliff, dress up as an inspector, check which animals have been microchipped and identify animals hidden in boxes by touch.
The Police Gallery
Originally the police stables when our building opened in 1900, this area would have housed up to 12 horses. Later, when the force's motorised division moved into West Bar, this became 'the garage' where mechanics would maintain the fleet of police vehicles for the area.
With the museum's extensive collection of police vehicles, this exhibition area showcases just some of the amazing police vehicles in our collection, focusing not just on their wheels but also on the equipment and specialist departments used by police forces then and now.
This gallery is due to be revamped by the end of 2023.
This area of the museum site houses some of our 'Mega Machines' and all of them are vital assets to the emergency services.
The star exhibit is our 47 foot long, RNLI Tyne Class Lifeboat, called 'the City of Sheffield'. This amazing boat once patrolled waters around the UK, serving as far afield as Whitby in North Yorkshire and Poole in Dorset.
Whilst exploring the yard you may also spot the only surviving 'police house' on this site; one of a number of small houses once owned by the police for their officers to live in. Over the years most of these buildings have sadly been lost.
Come face-to-face with these amazing vehicles and get up close and personal by climbing onboard.
Today's emergency services
The second floor of the building once housed individual bedrooms for the police, firemen who lived onsite from 1900 until 1924. Six of these former bedrooms now form our 'Today's Emergency Services' exhibition. This exhibition takes a brief look at the work of the modern emergency services including mountain rescue, RNLI, HM Coastguard and the Air Ambulance Service.
You'll also find an interactive house fire and road traffic display, and a driving simulator to test your road skills. Jump on one of our police motorbikes and experience a real police chase.
Our archives and collection stores are also held on this floor; why not take a peek through one of the windows to see what treasures you can spot.
Pilots, Paramedics and Propellors
Pilots, Paramedics and Propellors, opened in September 2023. Using original objects, interactive displays and audiovisual elements it celebrates the amazing lifesaving work of the UK's air ambulance services. It can be found on the second floor of the museum, alongside displays showcasing our modern emergency services.
The exhibition has been created in partnership with Yorkshire Air Ambulance and partly sponsored by the Church Burgesses Educational Foundation.
Learning and Discovery room 1
Learning and Discovery room 1 was originally the mess room (dining room) when our building was an operational station.
Our learning rooms are located on the first floor of the museum and are used for visiting groups, schools and conferences. Room 1 has a capacity of 60 people seated. This area of the museum is also used during school holidays for activities and crafts and as additional space on event weekends.
Learning and Discovery room 2
Learning and Discovery room 2 was originally the kitchen of the police, fire and ambulance station.
Our learning rooms are located on the first floor of the museum and are used for visiting groups, schools and conferences. Room 2 has a capacity of 30 people seated. This area of the museum is also used during school holidays for activities and crafts and as additional space on event weekends.
'The Tack Room' Coffee Shop
Our cosy Coffee Shop is located on the ground floor and can be accessed directly from the museum entrance. It is housed in the station's original tack room, where the 'tack' or harnesses from the horses would be hung in front of the open fire to dry, so it's name reflects the history of the space.
Our Coffee Shop is also open to the public from Wednesday to Sunday, 10am-4pm, and can be enjoyed even if you're not visiting the rest of the museum. We're a perfect stop-off for a takeaway or sit-down cuppa!