The Art Fund Museum of the Year 2016 prize was awarded to the V&A last night at a dinner and ceremony at the Natural History Museum, London. V&A Director, Martin Roth, accepted the award from HRH The Duchess of Cambridge. The event was attended by prestigious guests from the art, design and museum world, many of which have worked closely with the V&A.
The annual museum prize, the largest in the world, recognises the outstanding innovation, imagination and achievements of one museum throughout the preceeding year. The V&A was one of five finalists including: Arnolfini (Bristol), Bethlem Museum of the Mind (London), Jupiter Artland (Edinburgh), and York Art Gallery (Yorkshire).
Stephen Deuchar, Art Fund director and chair of the judges, said:
‘The V&A experience is an unforgettable one. Its recent exhibitions from Alexander McQueen to The Fabric of India, and the opening of its new Europe 1600-1815 galleries, were all exceptional accomplishments – at once entertaining and challenging, rooted in contemporary scholarship, and designed to reach and affect the lives of a large and diverse national audience. It was already one of the best-loved museums in the country: this year it has indisputably become one of the best museums in the world.’
Martin Roth said:
‘We are truly honoured to be awarded Art Fund Museum of the Year 2016. It is fantastic to be recognised for our many achievements last year, from the Europe 1600-1815 Galleries – the £12.5 million project which completed the restoration of the entire front section of the Museum – to the cutting edge public programme, headlined of course by the record-breaking ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ exhibition. Winning this award is a perfect way to thank everyone who has made these successes possible: our staff, visitors, funders, and our many partners and colleagues across organisations around the world. I would like to thank the judges for acknowledging the V&A during this truly exciting period of our growth, and I congratulate all the other shortlisted museums who so ably demonstrate the richness and variety of the UK’s unique arts and culture scene.
The V&A is thriving as a world-class museum and centre of excellence for research and expertise. This award not only allows us to celebrate our achievements over the past year, but it will progress our ambitions to continue to transform our building and make our unparalleled collections of art and design accessible to the widest possible audiences in the UK and overseas. With this prize we plan to revive the Museum’s legendary Circulation department, which collected and shared the best of contemporary design with regional museums, galleries and art colleges, but which closed in 1976. We will ‘re-circulate’ our collections, taking them beyond our usual metropolitan partners and engaging in a more intimate way with the communities we reach so that we can continue to deliver on our ambition to be both a national museum for a local audience and a local museum for a national audience.’