Museum of the Year 2020: £200,000 prize split five ways

Last updated at 11:38
Clockwise from top left: Aberdeen Art Gallery, Gairloch Museum, South London Gallery, Science Museum, Towner EastbourneArt Fund/Marc Atkins
Clockwise from top left: Aberdeen Art Gallery, Gairloch Museum, South London Gallery, Science Museum, Towner Eastbourne

Not one, but FIVE museums and galleries have been crowned Museum of the Year 2020 and will share the £200,000 prize.

The judges decided to split the honour five ways this year rather than picking one winner as usual.

The Art Fund said the decision was in response to the impact coronavirus has had on the sector and the "unprecedented challenges that all museums face this year". In March, museums and art galleries had to shut their doors to the public, which meant they lost a lot of money they need to stay open.

The winners are London's Science Museum, Gairloch Museum in north-west Scotland, Aberdeen Art Gallery, South London Gallery and Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne, East Sussex.

In recent years, the Museum of the Year winner has received £100,000, with four other shortlisted museums getting £10,000 each. This year, the five winners will receive £40,000 each.

Jenny Waldman, director of the Art Fund, which runs the prize, said the winners were all "exceptional examples of museums offering inspiration, reflection and joy in the heart of communities".

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Jenny Waldman, Director of the Art Fund
The five Museum of the Year winners:

Aberdeen Art Gallery

Aberdeen Art GalleryArt Fund/Marc Atkins

Aberdeen Art Gallery was founded in 1884. It closed in 2015 to be redeveloped and reopened last year. The renovation increased the the number of works on display from 370 to 1080, and attracted 100,000 people in its first 100 days.

The judges said they were impressed by "the commitment to involve the people of the city in the future of this rediscovered jewel on their doorstep".

The gallery's manager Christine Rew said: "The award will help us make a difference to the lives of artists and audiences."

Gairloch Museum

Gairloch MuseumArt Fund/Marc Atkins

Ever wanted to go to a museum in an old military bunker? Well, Gairloch Museum, on the north-west coast of Scotland, is the place for you.

Curator Karen Buchanan said she hoped the recognition would bring "our small, independent museum to the national stage".

The Science Museum

The Science MuseumArt Fund/Marc Atkins

The Science Museum was founded in 1857 and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London. Maybe you've been there on a school trip?

The judges said they "recognised the shift-change that had taken place in this well-known and much respected institution, not only in its spaces, but also in its relationship with its visitors and local communities".

Museum director Sir Ian Blatchford said they would use the prize money "to support local schoolchildren from communities that aren't able to currently visit the museum with special outreach sessions".

South London Gallery

South London GalleryArt Fund/Marc Atkins

The South London Gallery was founded in 1891 and is in Camberwell, in London.

The judges praised the gallery for its "exciting programme of exhibitions and events, and a highly regarded free education programme".

Gallery director Margot Heller said: "The financial insecurity brought by lockdown has forced us to find new ways to connect with local schools and families. The award will allow us to continue our existing programmes, as well offering us the chance to commission an exciting new work."

Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne

Towner EastbourneArt Fund/Marc Atkins

This eye-catching building is the colourful Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne, East Sussex. It attracts over 100,000 visitors a year.

The judges admired the gallery for being a "free and open community resources" and "transform[ing] communities through art."

Director Joe Hill said: "In the current unprecedented circumstances, we are proud to have continued to deliver a wide-ranging programme."

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