The Museum of the Year award is an annual prize given to a museum or gallery in the United Kingdom for a “track record of imagination, innovation and excellence”.
This year, ArtFund have decided due to extraordinary circumstances, they will be using the Museum of the Year award to highlight five museums. In July of this year, ArtFund stated that the monetary prize fund will be increased to £200,000 (previously £100,000) and split between five winning institutions, these winners will be announced on 12th October 2020. This will mark the start of the week long celebration of the museums and their activities over the past year.
So I am going to do a brief recap of the last five winners of the Art Fund Museum of the Year award:
St Fagan’s National Museum of History | Cardiff, Wales
In the grounds of St Fagans Castle, a 16th century manor house, there are over forty original buildings from across Wales and different historical periods that have been re-erected in the 100-acre parkland. The site has been open as a museum since 1948 and the buildings include houses, a farm, a school, a chapel and a Workmen’s Institute. This museum, located just a stones throw from Cardiff city centre, celebrates communities, nature, architecture and Welsh culture – what’s not to love?!
Tate St Ives | Cornwall, England
This museum, part of the Tate group, was built to celebrate the art it holds but also the stunning natural surroundings, just off Porthmeor beach in St Ives, Cornwall and is the home of post-war British Modernism. Having opened in 1993, it plays host to major national and international exhibitions every year. The Tate won the award in 2018 following a 4 year redevelopment that doubled the space available to present and interpret artworks. The museum also gives permanent prominence to artist that worked and lived in the town of St Ives, celebrating local artists and influences.
The Hepworth Wakefield | West Yorkshire, England
The Hepworth in Wakefield is a art gallery that specialises in sculpture, modern and contemporary art, it is named after the famous British sculptor Barbara Hepworth, who was born and raised in the Yorkshire town. The museum opened in 2011 and overlooks the River Calder on Wakefield’s historic waterfront. The Hepworth won the prize in 2017 following a year where the visitor numbers grew by over 20%, producing major exhibitions including The Hepworth prize for Sculpture and the development of a ‘Sculpture Triangle’ with regional partners at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds Museum and Art Gallery and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) | London, England
The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is well known by those both inside and outside of the museum sector for it’s national prominence, extensive collections and research facilities. It is the world’s leading museum of art and design and houses a permanent collection of over 2.3 million objects. The museum was founded in 1852 and remains at the cutting edge of the museum sector embracing popular culture influences and blockbuster exhibitions. If you haven’t checked out the BBC’s Secrets of the Museum yet, filmed in the V&A with museum staff, do check it out!
More recently in the V&A dynasty, V&A Dundee was been nominated for the European Museum of the Year Award 2020, one of the world’s most prestigious cultural awards. Scotland’s first design museum opened in September 2018 and within its first year welcomed over 830,000 visitors.
The Whitworth | Manchester, England
This is my favourite of all the museums on this list, as I went to the University of Manchester, it holds a special place in my heart. The Whitworth is known for it’s eclectic and extensive collection of historical and contemporary fine art, textiles and wallpapers. It won the prize for Museum of the Year in 2015 following a £15 million redevelopment project, the four main galleries were redesigned with floor to ceiling windows and a new arts garden with an outdoor display of sculptures. The ArtFund’s podcast, Meet Me at the Museum has an episode at The Whitworth, hosted by comedian Russell Kane and is well worth checking out!
What is your favourite museum out of the five mentioned? Do you think it is a good idea to have multiple winners of the ArtFund Museum of the Year prize this year?
Thanks for reading,
Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020 – www.artfund.org/blog/2020/07/23/announcing-new-look-art-fund-museum-of-the-year-2020