Wednesday 20 June 2012

Art Fund Prize for museums and galleries

Art Fund Price 2012 logo
To the British Museum's Egyptian Galleries last night for the 2012 Art Fund Prize for museums and galleries. The event marked the 10th anniversary of the prize and the 5th anniversary of the Art Fund sponsoring it, the prize is organise by the Museum Prize Trust whose chair is Penelope, Viscountess Cobham. Last year's winner was the British Museum. Speakers included Stephen Deuchar (Director of the Art Fund), Jeremy Hunt (Culture Secretary and member of the Art Fund), Lucy Worsley (member of the judging panel), Chris Smith (chairman of the judging panel) and Penelope Cobham who paid tribute to all 10 winners of the prize.

Stephen Deuchar commented on the remarkable range of projects this year, despite the combination of central government cuts and reductions in local authority spending. Jeremy Hunt pointed out that visits to museums and galleries make up a quarter of the spend of all foreign visitors (and that a quarter of all foreign visitors visit the British Museum); both staggering statistics.

The second annual Clore Award for Museum Learning, whose judging panel was chaired by Dame Vivienne Duffield, was presented jointly to Leicester County Museums Service (for Held in the Hand and Touch Tables) and the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester (for Manchester Early Years Partnership). The award celebrates innovation in museum learning.

Royal Albert Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter
Chris Smith also commented on the high quality of the ten museums on the Art Fund Prize long list (Bletchely Park, The Hepworth Wakefield, The Holburne Museum (Bath) , M Shed (Bristol), National Museum of Scotland (Edinburgh),  Riverside Museum (Glasgow), Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery (Exeter), Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Turner Contemporary (Margate), Watts Gallery (Surrey)) which was reduced to a short list of four incredibly fine museums. The panel, who visited all the museums on the long list, were looking for excellence, innovation and engagement with audiences.  The four short-listed museums were:-

The Hepworth Wakefield, a newly designed museum by David Chipperfield which has had more than 100,000 visitors in its first five months of opening.

The Royal Albert Museum and Art Gallery in Exeter, which reopened in 2011 after the building's first redevelopment in its 140 year history. They had 150,000 visitors in the first month after re-opening.

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery which reopened in 2011 after a 17.6 million pound transformation. The first refurbishment the gallery has had in its 120 year history.

The Watts Gallery,Compton near Guidford which reopened after a 10 million pound restoration which included providing storage, education facilities and out reach for the 21st century.

The winner was the Royal Albert Museum and Art Gallery in Exeter.

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