Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020

By | Category: Travel news

The annual prize has been a muted affair this year with probably very few people even aware that it was still running.

The Museum in Gairloch – Image: Gairloch Museum

After all museums and galleries were closed for a large part of the year – some still are – so the opportunity for visitors to even be aware of which organisations were on the short list might have been a bit of a surprise.

In a quick rundown, there were no Northern Irish or Welsh museums and galleries on the finalists list. There were two entrants from Scotland and three from England.

As is often the case, some of the finalists had just finished renovation and expansion work and that is the case with the first finalist.

Aberdeen Art Gallery, which has been around for 135 years, has completed an upgrade and restoration which now allows some 1080 works to be on display instead of the previous 370. As Just about Travel has called on more than one occasion for more items to be on display rather than locked away, this achievement has to be applauded by us.

The Gairloch Museum in Wester Ross is in an old nuclear bunker. Not the prettiest of buildings, bunkers were meant to be functional not grand architecture. In the last eight years, volunteers and staff have converted the site into the home of a museum for the local area. Re-purposing a building that was a relic of the past seems to fit in with current thinking for recycling!

The Science Museum in London is internationally known and who, on a trip to the capital, hasn’t taken their kids there at some point in the visit? Fewer than you might think so you should put it on your next trip list. Two new galleries opened and last year saw the end of the astronaut Tim Peake’s  exhibition tour around our countries.

Between Camberwell and Peckham south of the River Thames lies the South London Gallery, the fourth finalist. It has doubled in size by moving into an adjacent building which, like Gairloch had done, was re-purposed but this time from being a former fire station.

The last finalist is the Towner Eastbourne, an art gallery that isn’t far from the Grand Parade and the beachfront in Eastbourne. Despite it losing some of its funding the gallery remains free and managed to enhance its reputation in the town something that probably helped it to get on the list.

And which won?

All of them for the Art Fund decided to split its enhanced jackpot of £200,000 amongst all five.

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