Walthamstow’s inspirational and celebratory William Morris Gallery has won this year's £100,000 Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year.
Transformed from local gem to world-class attraction, the William Morris Gallery has been awarded the prestigious title of Museum of the Year for its major renovation and creative reinterpretation of the life and work of Morris – the revolutionary Victorian designer and social activist – for a diverse range of 21st century audiences.
“This truly is Museum of the Year. Its extraordinary collections, beautifully presented, draw the visitor engagingly through Morris’s life and work and through the building itself. Setting the highest standards of curatorship, and reaching out impressively to its local community.”
The 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, engaging schools, the local community and a national audience like never before.
A new temporary exhibition space allows collaborations with leading artists and will host the first stop of a national tour of Jeremy Deller’s critically-acclaimed Venice Biennale work English Magic. 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.
Our five judges chaired by Director Stephen Deuchar visited ten finalists ranging from Narberth Museum in Pembrokeshire to the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead before reaching today’s decision.
Listen to judge Bob and Roberta Smith discussing the William Morris Gallery:
Clore Award for Museum Learning
The £10,000 Clore 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.'
Over 385,000 visitors have experienced the diverse programme of exhibitions, collection displays, events and free drop-in activities in 2012, with more than 900,000 visitors welcomed to date since the gallery opened in May 2011.