A new venue for Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery, now called the Danum Gallery, Library and Museum (DGLAM), built around the frontage of the historic Doncaster High School for Girls, opened to the public on 29 May 2021 and for the first time, Doncaster is able to welcome touring exhibitions from other museums and galleries.
In 1910, Beechfield House opened its doors as Doncaster’s first museum and art gallery with Doncaster Art Club’s annual exhibition. When Doncaster Museum & Art Gallery opened, the collection had only 1006 objects, recorded in a ‘stock book’ which the museum still has today. The book notes such exotic objects as a peach stone and seeds from a monkey puzzle tree! Beechfield also had its own grounds where the fondly remembered grotto was sited and, in 1956, a zoo opened in the museum grounds and quickly became a much loved attraction.
On 30 October 1964, the first local authority museum to be built after the WWII opened in a stylish building on Chequer Road, close to the town centre. Commissioned by Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council, the building was designed by staff of the architecture and planning department. It had been a member of the Contemporary Art Society since 1952 and the first gift to the gallery was of two watercolours by Graham Sutherland. The CAS made a particularly generous gift in 1963 when a group of thirty works was made to help celebrate the opening of the new museum.
Since then the CAS have donated around 100 works to the museum, including works by Henry Moore and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. This group included an important selection of 20th-century sculptures, an art form which had been poorly represented in the collection up to that time, including those by John Skeaping, Frank Dobson and Maurice Lambert.
Doncaster’s strength is its collection of works on paper which include a large body of images relating to horse racing. Most works date from the 19th and 20th century, including a number of 18th-century portraits by Joseph Wright of Derby. The modern collection has a strong focus on 20th-century works by British artists, including a large group of prints and drawings by Sir Frank Brangwyn RA and a selection of works by Maggi Hambling, Carel Weight, Laura Knight and Patrick Caulfield. The museum also holds a group of works by Jewish Eastern European artists, including the 1940s émigrés, Horace Brodzky and Bernard Meninsky.