The collection encapsulates the story of the development of Modern Art. The main trends and movements are traced through works by many well-known artists, from Pablo Picasso and Pierre Bonnard to Sir Stanley Spencer and Helen Chadwick. It is currently administered by the Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust.
The Graves Art Gallery has always shown temporary exhibitions alongside the permanent displays, a policy established by the first Director John Rothenstein, who later went on to become Director of the Tate Gallery. The painter George Hamilton Constantine was the next Director, from 1938 until the 1950s.
In 2001 the Graves Art Gallery was refurbished and the galleries restored to their original condition.