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Aberdeen Art Gallery wins prestigious Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020

19/10/2020

Aberdeen Art Gallery has been announced as a winner of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020, the most prestigious museum prize in the world. In a unique edition of the prize and in recognition of the unprecedented challenges that all museums face this year, five winning museums have been named. They will equally share the £200,000 award, a 40% rise over previous years.

The winning museums are: Aberdeen Art Gallery (Aberdeen, Scotland); Gairloch Museum (Gairloch, Scotland); Science Museum (London, England); South London Gallery (London, England); Towner Eastbourne (Eastbourne, England). They are awarded based on their achievements in 2019 – 20.

Councillor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s culture spokesperson, said: “Covid-19 abruptly halted the fantastic momentum that had built since Aberdeen Art Gallery re-opened in November 2019 following the redevelopment. We welcomed over 100,000 visitors in under 100 days and then suddenly, we were closed again. Being a Museum of the Year winner is the best ‘welcome back’ present imaginable.

“The redevelopment of Aberdeen Art Gallery has been a transformational project not just for the building, but for also for the city. In November last year we experienced the powerful affection with which visitors reconnected with the building and their favourite artworks, like old friends – transformed, but reassuringly familiar - and felt the surge of civic pride. And now in these days of Covid restrictions, we are grateful that our Gallery is open for inspiration – a place for everyone to enjoy.”

FCC Communities Fund Grant Manager, Sophie Cade, says: "FCC Communities Foundation supported the redevelopment of Aberdeen Art Gallery with a £275,000 grant in 2019. This helped to create an innovative and unique educational area within the Gallery and we are delighted to see that the inspirational work that went in to transforming the Art Gallery has been recognised through this award. It is a truly special building and visitor experience."

The judges, Jago Cooper (Curator of the Americas, The British Museum), Dame Liz Forgan (Trustee, Art Fund), Ryan Gander (artist), Melanie Keen (Director, The Wellcome Collection) and Jenny Waldman (Director, Art Fund), reflected:

Aberdeen Art Gallery is responsible for an exceptional collection of art and heritage, rightly celebrated as among the finest in the UK. 2019 marked the culmination of the most ambitious redevelopment project in the museum’s 135 year history, completely re-imagining the gallery so its extraordinary treasures, and the stories they tell can be celebrated, shared and better understood. The judges were impressed with the scale and ambition of this project, which increased the number of works on show from 370 to 1080, the beautifully executed restoration, and the commitment to involve the people of the city in the future of this rediscovered jewel on their doorstep. They looked forward to seeing what the next 100-years would bring.