Art Fund awards £200,000 to museums and galleries from Gairloch to Eastbourne

Museum of the Year prize is awarded to two institutions in Scotland and three in England, in perhaps one of the toughest years ever faced by the sector.

13 October 2020


Museum of the Year has been awarded to five institutions around the UK spanning from Gairloch, Scotland to Eastbourne in East Sussex, sharing a prize fund of £200,000 – a 40 per cent increase over previous years, in response to the unprecedented challenges facing the sector. Art Fund runs the annual award which recognises museums and galleries for their achievements over the past year. Selected this year are Aberdeen Art Gallery, Gairloch Museum, London’s Science Museum, South London Gallery, and Towner Eastbourne to share the prize in a make-or-break year for arts institutions.

Gairloch Museum was chosen for its move to a repurposed nuclear bunker, which the judges say “transformed a village eyesore into an important visitor attraction”; while Aberdeen Art Gallery was also selected for its ambitious redevelopment. London’s Science Museum was recognised for its “shift change” in approach, including events such as the nationwide tour of Tim Peake’s spacecraft and its biggest ever sleepover to mark the Apollo 11 anniversary, plus opening two new permanent galleries.

South London Gallery was honoured for its first year since it doubled in size, not to mention its unwavering dedication to promoting inclusion within its culturally diverse local community. Towner Eastbourne gallery was selected for its commitment to promoting under-represented artists, and for “truly serving the needs of its intergenerational and diverse communities”.

Until 16 October, all five museums will stage events to celebrate the prize, including live-streamed curator talks, artist Q&As and digital activities.

Jenny Waldman, Art Fund director, said in a statement: “The winners are exceptional examples of museums offering inspiration, reflection and joy in the heart of communities. The UK’s museums –admired worldwide and vital locally – were thriving before Covid-19. They can help rebuild our communities and confidence as we emerge from the virus. But they face financial peril. Not only do we need sustained investment from government, but we encourage everyone to go and explore their local museum – they need our support now.”

GalleryArt Fund Museum of the Year


Aberdeen Art Gallery © Marc Atkins


Gairloch Museum © Marc Atkins


Science Museum © Marc Atkins


Towner Eastbourne © Marc Atkins

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South London Gallery © Marc Atkins

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Jenny Brewer

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