Our heritage

We've been around for over 170 years. Here are just a few of our highlights so far.

(All illustrations courtesy of Geo Law)

1843 Geo-Law

Sheffield School of Design founded

We can trace our roots right back to 1843, when the Sheffield School of Design was founded to provide skilled designers to support Britain's industry.

In the early days we were a somewhat smaller institution - lessons were given in a rented room above the Bath pub (which is still there today), with an average attendance of 32 people.


Our students sweep the board at the Great Exhibition

By the 1850s we had grown to around 1,000 students and changed our name to Sheffield School of Art.

At the Great Exhibition in London, we were the most successful art and design school in the country, with Sheffield students winning four gold medals - no other school won any.

1857 Geo-Law
1901 Geo-Law

Annie Bindon Carter pioneers art therapy

When former school student Annie Bindon Carter volunteered at the Wharncliffe War Hospital she started a company helping men who had been severely disabled produce painted fabrics, which were sold around the country.

One of the earliest examples of art therapy, the business employed almost 70 ex-servicemen. Read more about Annie's work on the BBC website.

1926 Geo-Law
1945 Geo-Law

We move to Psalter Lane

After our buildings were all but destroyed by bombing during the Second World War, we moved to the former Bluecoat School, on Psalter Lane, where we would remain for over 60 years. Find out what it was like at the sadley missed Psalter Lane art college in this 1969 film by the pioneering art educator Barry Callaghan.

Psalter Lane site
1951 Geo-Law
1969 Geo-Law
1977 Geo-Law

We're a key player in the Sheffield music scene

SIA student Jarvis Cocker hands a demo tape by his band Pulp to DJ John Peel, who invites them to do a session on Radio 1. It would be at least another decade, however, before the band reached national prominence.

Around the same time our refectory also hosted the first gigs by the Human League and ABC, two bands who enjoyed more immediate success.

The covers of 'This Is Hardcore' by Pulp and 'Travelogue' by The Human League

Nick Park wins the first of his four Oscars

Nick Park studied here in the early 1980s before going on to work at Aardman Animations and create some of Britain's best-loved characters, including Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep.

In 1991, in recognition of his success, we awarded him an honorary fellowship.

1992 Geo Laws Art

We become a university

After merging with Sheffield College of Commerce and Technology to form Sheffield Polytechnic in 1969, in 1992 we became Sheffield Hallam University.


Our annual degree show becomes a Sheffield fixture

We held our first major degree show, including all of our creative courses, in 2006. Since then the annual event has become one of the biggest student exhibitions in the north, showcasing outstanding work by our talented artists, makers, designers, photographers and filmmakers.

The show regularly attracts the attention of leading national figures in the creative industries, as well as art lovers from across the region.

2008 Geo Laws Art

The move to the city centre

In 2008, we moved back into the centre of Sheffield. Our new building in the city's Cultural Industries Quarter meant our students were at the heart of a thriving creative community.


We celebrate 50 years of one of Sheffield's finest designers

Our Steel and Light exhibition celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of David Mellor's seminal cutlery range Symbol, along with the centenary of stainless steel - which was, of course, developed here in Sheffield.

Steel and Light exhibition

We announce an exciting new era

We took over a long-term lease on one of Sheffield's most iconic buildings - the old Post Office building in Fitzalan Square. The Grade II listed building opened in 1910, and it will be an impressive new home for SIA by the end of the year, after it's restored and refurbished by its owners.

Plans for the interior will provide teaching rooms and practice studios, as well as an exciting exhibition and event space.

The old Post Office building in Fitzalan Square

Sheffield Institute of Art moves into the Head Post Office

In January SIA took up residence in the old Post Office building. Transformed into a stunning and unique new home it provides and inspirational space for students and promises an exciting future for SIA.

SIA new home

SIA Degree Show one of the top 10 degree shows in UK

The annual SIA Degree show was chosen as one of the top 10 degree shows to look out for in the summer of 2016.

SIA degree show

The Animation course at Sheffield Hallam celebrates its 10th Anniversary.

2017 was the 10 Year Anniversary of our Animation course. To celebrate there was a special screening of students work at the Showroom cinema which was attended by 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year animation students as well as many animation course alumni & local animation companies.

Animation 10 year anniversary

Sheffield Institute of Arts celebrates 175 years!

2018 was the 175th year of the Sheffield Institute of Arts opening it's doors. Throughut 2018 we held a variety of exciting creative events to mark this anniversary.

SIA 175th year anniversary
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