Young V&A wins Art Fund Museum of the Year 2024

Girl in a yellow dress walks through the main space in the Young V&A
Young V&A, Museum of the Year Winner, 2024

Young V&A was announced as Art Fund Museum of the Year 2024 this evening at a ceremony at the National Gallery, London.

Dr Helen Charman, director of Young V&A, was presented with the £120,000 prize – the largest museum prize in the world – by Vick Hope, broadcaster and member of the judging panel for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2024.

Young V&A is a museum sparking creativity now and for the future. Created with children from early years to early teens, it is a place for young people to imagine, play and design, and get inspired by almost 2,000 toys, characters, objects and artworks on display from around the world and across history.

Rooted in its local community with 150-year heritage as East London’s first museum, Young V&A strives to energise young creators as well as empower everyone to promote creativity now and for the next generation and support the teaching of art and design education for all.

Culture Secretary Lisa Nandy said:

“Our world-leading museums are a source of creativity and curiosity that can inspire lifelong passions for learning, history and the arts.

“This year’s Art Fund Museum of the Year was a tough competition with an exciting shortlist representing institutions from across the country. Congratulations to the Young V&A on this achievement, recognising their hard work to create a unique space dedicated to young people.”

Jenny Waldman, director, Art Fund, and chair of the judges for Art Fund Museum of the Year, said:

“Young V&A is a truly inspirational museum. With a brief from its young co-designers to create ‘the world’s most joyful museum’, Young V&A has achieved that and more. It has radically reimagined the museum with and for young people, creating a museum experience that’s active, empowering and dynamic, centred on learning through play. Young V&A has established a deep engagement with its local community and, at the same time, it has become an international beacon for what a children’s museum can be.

“I give my warmest congratulations to the fantastic team at Young V&A on being crowned Art Fund Museum of the Year 2024. You truly are the world’s most joyful museum and will inspire young people now and for generations to come.”

Vick Hope, broadcaster and judge for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2024, said:

“The Young V&A is such a special and unique place, offering an experience for children (and their adults) like no other out there. The museum truly places young people centre stage, encouraging them to play, design and get creative through a fascinating collection of objects and artworks.

"I was inspired by the museum’s vision to become a space for the next generation to feel empowered and to imagine their future; a space that will cement museums as places they belong and feel welcome as they grow up, regardless of their background. In such a short time the Young V&A’s global impact has been really incredible, demonstrating the potential of what museums can be for children around the world – and I can’t recommend it enough for a visit.”

Young V&A opened on 1 July 2023 following a £13 million capital project to transform the former V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green into a trailblazing museum of creativity with a brief from the museum’s young co-designers to create ‘the world’s most joyful museum’. Young V&A offers three active, innovative permanent galleries (Play, Imagine and Design); a dynamic temporary exhibition space; beautifully restored Grade II listed architectural features; improved retail and café spaces; new accessible routes and facilities, including an accredited Changing Places Toilet (the first and only in Tower Hamlets); and an enhanced and expanded Clore Learning Centre and Creative Studios.

Following opening, Young V&A received overwhelming positive critical acclaim for its ambitious approach to child-centred museum experiences and thoughtful consideration of audience needs. Young V&A welcomed over 590,000 people in the first nine months of opening – a 223% increase on the V&A Museum of Childhood’s figures for the same period in 2019/20 – demonstrating Young V&A’s significant appeal.

The winner was one of five finalists. The other shortlisted museums, all highly commended by the judges, are: Craven Museum (Skipton, North Yorkshire), Dundee Contemporary Arts (Dundee), Manchester Museum (Manchester) and National Portrait Gallery (London).

Each finalist will receive £15,000. Together with £120,000 received by the winning museum, the total prize money for Art Fund Museum of the Year is £180,000, increased in 2023 to mark 120 years of Art Fund supporting museums.

The 2024 judging panel, chaired by Art Fund director Jenny Waldman, includes: Anupam Ganguli (Finance Director, Historic Royal Palaces), Vick Hope (broadcaster), Tania Kovats (artist) and Sir John Leighton (former Director-General, National Galleries of Scotland). The judges visited each of the finalists to inform their decision-making.

The prize is funded thanks to the generosity of Art Fund’s members who buy a National Art Pass. Pass holders enjoy discounts and benefits at the finalist museums and hundreds more museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, while also supporting Art Fund’s vital work championing and supporting museums.

Art Fund annually shortlists five outstanding museums for Museum of the Year. The 2024 edition recognised inspiring projects from autumn 2022 through to winter 2023, with audiences and communities at their heart – with a particular focus on community engagement, sustainable ways of working, and demonstration of ambition by reinventing what it means to be ‘the best’ museum for the audiences of today and tomorrow.

Art Fund Museum of the Year has continued its collaboration with the BBC in 2024.

Find out more about Art Fund Museum of the Year and explore the winner and finalists.

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