The 2013 Museum of the Year award has been given to the William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow, London. This prestigious Art Fund Prize was created in 2001 by representatives of National Heritage, the Museums Association, the Campaign for Museums.and the Art Fund to award excellence for public galleries. This year ten museums were in the running for the UK’s largest arts prize, £100,000. The competition celebrates the very best UK museums and galleries and the Prize highlights the innovative and creative ways that museums bring objects and collections to life, looking specifically at activity undertaken in 2012
The William Morris Gallery reopened in August 2012 following a major redevelopment with transformed Gallery spaces, fantastic new education facilities and an orangery-inspired extension overlooking the grounds. The new Gallery displays show Morris – the revolutionary Victorian designer and social activist – re-interpreted for the 21st century, engaging schools, the local community and a national audience like never before. A new temporary exhibition space allows collaborations with leading artists including Grayson Perry and photographer David Bailey, offering fresh new perspectives on the collection and Morris inspired design. Waltham Forest Council has driven the Gallery’s £5m redevelopment, and its transformation represents the Council’s commitment to arts and culture and wider plans to regenerate the borough and improve the area’s leisure offer. Since reopening, the Gallery has seen almost 100,000 visitors through the door, with record numbers participating in an ambitious programme of events and activities.
The finalists were chosen by an independent panel of judges chaired by Art Fund director, Stephen Deuchar. The judges are Daily Telegraph’s arts editor Sarah Crompton, writer and broadcaster Bettany Hughes, historian Tristram Hunt MP and the artist Bob and Roberta Smith. The prize was awarded by the BBC’s ‘Have I got News For You’ panelist Ian Hislop
This year’s ten Finalists were: BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, The Beaney, Canterbury, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, The Hepworth Wakefield, Wakefield, Horniman Museum and Gardens, London, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge, Narberth Museum, Pembrokeshire, Preston Park Museum and Grounds, Stockton-on-Tees and the William Morris Gallery, London
The Clore Award for Museum Learning, a £10,000 Award has been handed to The Hepworth Wakefield, with the judges praising its world-class education programme: ‘The integration of curatorial and learning programmes – which so many museums attempt – has rarely been achieved so completely and impressively as at The Hepworth Wakefield. It is educational, aspirational, and inspirational to the core.’
Top Photo: © Artlyst 2013