Friday, 19 June 2009

Wedgwood Museum scoops The Art Fund Prize for museums and galleries

Art Fund Press Release: 18/6/09

  • Museum celebrating iconic name of British ceramics claims £100,000 Prize
  • Internationally renowned collection covers 250 years of British creative, social and manufacturing history.
  • Win reaffirms Stoke-on-Trent's position at the heart of one of the UK's principal manufacturing traditions The Wedgwood Museum in Stoke-on-Trent tonight won the £100,000 Art Fund Prize for museums and galleries. The prize was announced by Chair of Judges, David Puttnam, at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London.

    The judges, who included artist Grayson Perry and mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, described themselves as 'bowled over' by the museum. They praised the way it uses its internationally-renowned collection to take visitors on a 250-year tour of British social, design and industrial history, while remaining firmly embedded in the local community.

    David Puttnam commented: "This Museum is extraordinary for so many reasons and we were all but unanimous in our decision.

    "The Wedgwood Museum brilliantly highlights the marriage of art, design, manufacturing and commerce; a marriage that resonates more today than at possibly any time in the intervening years. In every respect it fully meets our criteria of what a 21st century museum should aspire to be."

    Andrew Macdonald, Acting Director of The Art Fund, said: "The Wedgwood Museum magnificently celebrates the extraordinary achievement of Britain's industrial history. It is a richly deserving winner of this Prize, and its victory could not have come at a better time for the area, after all the uncertainty there has been over the future of the factory which still operates alongside the museum."

    This year the public was also a judge in the first ever People's Choice poll. Over 27,000 people voted on, also choosing The Wedgwood Museum as their clear winner.

    Owned and run by an independent charitable trust, the new £10 million museum is housed on the historic manufacturing site of Josiah Wedgwood and Sons, and tells the story of one of the world's most recognisable consumer brands. Visitors to the museum not only see ceramics but also a range of manuscripts, documentation, factory equipment, original models and fine art related to this world-renowned ceramics company.

    Three other outstanding museums were shortlisted for the Art Fund Prize: Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, for its Centre of New Enlightenment; Orleans House Gallery in Twickenham and Ruthin Craft Centre in North Wales.

    In addition to the cheque for £100,000, The Wedgwood Museum will also receive the Art Fund Prize Bowl, enamelled in silver by the craftsman Vladimir Böhm, which they can display for one year.

    The 2009 judging panel comprised:

  • David Puttnam (chair) film-maker and educationalist
  • Robert Crawford, outgoing Director General of the Imperial War Museum
  • Sally Osman, communications consultant and former Director of Communications at the BBC
  • Grayson Perry, Turner Prize-winning artist
  • Mathematician and author Marcus du Sautoy
  • Maggie Semple, Chief Executive of The Experience Corps
  • Journalist and broadcaster Mary Ann Sieghart

    This is the second year that The Art Fund, the UK's leading independent art charity has sponsored this major arts prize, which is open to all accredited museums and galleries in the UK. The Art Fund Prize for museums and galleries recognises and stimulates originality and excellence in museums and galleries and aims to increase public appreciation and enjoyment of all they have to offer.

    Last year's winner was The Lightbox museum and gallery in Woking. Previous winners of the then Gulbenkian Prize include Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (2007), Brunel's ss Great Britain, Bristol (2006), Big Pit: National Mining Museum of Wales, Blaenafon (2005), The Scottish Gallery of Modern Art for Landform by Charles Jencks (2004), and the National Centre for Citizenship and the Law at the Galleries of Justice, Nottingham (2003).

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