John Ruskin - Art, Society and Ideology
The Guild of St George
Ruskin established the Guild of St George in 1871 to implement some of his ideas about how society should develop. The aims of the Guild were outlined in a series of papers, subtitled 'Letters to the Workmen and Labourers of Great Britain'.
The first practical step taken by the Guild, under the direction of Ruskin, was to assist "the liberal education of the artisan" by establishing the St George’s Museum in Sheffield to house the collection compiled by Ruskin over many years. He intended for his collection to be available to the working class people, or artisans. He didn't believe that art had an 'Upper Class Aura' and so tried to select contemporary pieces, or at least shed new ways of thinking on more older pieces. His ideas in this sense are similar to Walter Benjamin, a German social theorist.
Ruskin originally intended that a series of museums would be established in other industrial centres, but these never materialised and consequently the Sheffield experiment remained unique. Today the Guild is a charitable education trust which supports community projects and provides scholarships and awards in the areas of craft, agricultural science, art history, education, industry and social sciences.