The Whitworth Museum in Manchester has won the Art Fund Prize Museum of the Year 2015 with judges calling it a “museum of the future.”
The newly renovated museum was handed the £100,000 prize by Booker Prize winning novelist Ben Orki at a ceremony at Tate Modern last night.
Dr Maria Blashaw, museum director, collected the prize on behalf of the Whitworth which was chosen from a shortlist that included The Imperial War Museum in London, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, and the MAC in Belfast, among others.
“To be recognized on such a strong shortlist has been a delight,” Dr Balshaw told the BBC immediately after the win was announced. “Our vision was that we would make our gallery relevant for everybody that lives in Manchester […] we are part of the most diverse community in the North West. We were closed for half a year and spent our time getting to know those communities.”
The judges were swayed by the fact that the museum, which has just completed a £15 million renovation has positioned itself internationally and engaged with the public.
The new, modern, building, designed by architects MUMA, and the unique outreach programs also impressed the judges. “The transformation of the Whitworth has been one of the great museum achievements of recent years,” they stated.
“Its galleries offer intellectual, visual and creative stimulus of the highest order; the collections are innovatively presented […] We were particularly taken with the relationship between the re-conceived building and its surrounding park: museum, locality and community merge as if one… it truly feels like a museum of the future.”
Last year’s winner was Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
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