William White took up the post of curator of the Ruskin Collection in 1890, helping move the collection from Walkley to its new museum at Meersbrook Park. Unlike the previous curator, Henry Swan, White was trained as a professional curator and researched, wrote about and displayed the collection in a more orderly way (though not in a way that Ruskin necessarily wished it to be displayed). With help from the Guild of St George he was also instrumental in acquiring many more objects for the collection as by the 1890s Ruskin was unable to do this himself.
Reports suggest that though devoted to the Ruskin Collection, he was a difficult man to get on with. In the end, White was dismissed from his post in 1899 for ‘incivility' to two councillors.