St Fagans wins

By | Category: Travel destinations

The winner of the £100,000 Art Fund prize is St Fagans, one of the constituent parts of the National Museum of Wales.

the very red, Kennixton Farmhouse

It won, says the Art Fund which organises the annual award, because “our judges were impressed by how it lives, breathes and embodies the culture and identity of Wales and by the way it’s forged a new and meaningful model of community collaboration.”

The prize follows a £30m redevelopment of the museum last year. It involved the refurbishment of the main entrance building, the creation of three new galleries, and more new spaces for learning and research.
But even without the improvements, St Fagans is a substantial attraction. There are more than forty original buildings which were demolished piece-by-piece, transported to and then re-erected at the site.

I last visited St Fagans some six years ago. As I wrote then, some of the buildings are not what you might expect to have preserved. You expect grand houses, religious places of significance and significant historical buildings. At St Fagans you find a urinal and a cockpit; a school and a farmhouse; a tannery and a church; woollen mill and a miner’s institute. They are all buildings that ordinary folk would have been familiar with. In addition there is a re-created Celtic village, replicas of a boat house, restaurants, an education centre as well as the shops and galleries.

It is as unlike a museum as many of us imagine one to be. You don’t wander through gallery after gallery but through field and almost a re-constructed village. A railway station and a police building are also scheduled to be re-built at St Fagans along with a Cardiff hotel. And after that? I’m sure the curators have other buildings in mind.

The other museums that were in contention were the V&A Dundee, HMS Caroline in Belfast, Nottingham Contemporary and Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum. Each of them will receive £10,000.

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