“From Brooklyn Works to Brooklynism?” – Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust partnership

From Brooklyn Works to Brooklynism? was a partnership collaboration between The University of Sheffield, Arts and Humanities Knowledge Exchange (Co-Constructive Humanities) and Kelham Island Museum (Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust).

The Knowledge Exchange team in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities curated a six-week ‘takeover’ at Kelham Island Museum with a series of events and temporary exhibitions and installations to explore how the Kelham Island neighbourhood has evolved from industrial Brooklyn Works to Sheffield’s very own version of ‘Brooklynism’.

The programme brought academics in the faculty together with artists, developers and other place-making practitioners. Using the Kelham Island experience as one example of place-making, the programme explores how development can be viewed as positive or negative and how it might fit into broader themes of ‘gentrification’; neoliberalism; the greening of post-industrial space; hipster culture, authenticity, community-led urban activism; heritage, memory, materiality and urban erasures.

Located in one of the city’s oldest industrial districts, Kelham Island Museum stands on a man-made island over 900 years old. The museum was opened in 1982 to house the objects, pictures and archive material representing Sheffield’s industrial story. The interactive galleries tell the story from light trades and skilled workmanship to mass production and what it was like to live and work in Sheffield during the Industrial Revolution. 

Brooklyn Works, was one of the first industrial buildings in Kelham Island to be transformed into residential accommodation. The original Alfred Beckett & Sons signage can be seen on Green Lane and from Ball Street Bridge. 

‘Brooklynism’ has been defined by one commentator as ‘the hipster stage of late capitalism’. Brooklynism refers to the experience of the New York Borough of Brooklyn: “In the first decades of the 21st century, Brooklyn has experienced a renaissance as an avant garde destination for hipsters, with concomitant gentrification, dramatic house price increases, and a decrease in housing affordability. Since the 2010s, Brooklyn has evolved into a thriving hub of entrepreneurship and high technology startup firms, and of postmodern art and design.” Wikipedia

Kelham Island has been crowned the best neighbourhood in the UK and Ireland. The former industrial area has been reinvented in recent years to become one of the hippest areas in the country– and now, it’s transformation has earned it the title of best neighbourhood in the UK and Ireland at the 2019 Urbanism Awards.

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