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Press release

Wedgwood Museum scoops The Art Fund Prize for museums and galleries

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 guardian.co.uk, 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).

For more information please visit: www.artfundprize.org.uk

Ends

Notes to editors:

  • The ten museums and galleries on the long list for The Art Fund Prize for museums and galleries 2009 were:
    • The Braid: Arts Centre and Mid-Antrim Museum, Ballymena, Co Antrim
    • Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, for The Centre of New
    • Enlightenment (short-listed)
    • The Museum of Reading for Outside the Box
    • National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh, for Scotland: A Changing Nation
    • National Trust Museum of Childhood, Derbyshire
    • Orleans House Gallery, Richmond (short-listed)
    • Rotunda – The William Smith Museum of Geology, Scarborough
    • Ruthin Craft Centre: The Centre for the Applied Arts (short-listed)
    • The V&A, London, for The Sackler Centre for arts education
    • Wedgwood Museum, Stoke-on-Trent (short-listed)
  • The Art Fund Prize for museums and galleries is administered by the Museum Prize, a charitable company created in 2002 by The Art Fund, the Campaign for Museums, the Museums Association and National Heritage.  Its trustees are Penelope, Viscountess Cobham (Chair), James Bishop (National Heritage), Ylva French (Campaign for Museums), Mark Taylor (Museums Association), Sam Mullins (London Transport Museum), Sandy Nairne (representing The Art Fund), James Naughtie (broadcaster and writer) and Eleanor Updale (author and historian). 
  • The Museum Prize is registered as a company in England and Wales No. 421870 and a charity No. 1093174.  Registered Office: 24 Calvin Street, London E1 6NW.
  • The Art Fund is the UK’s leading independent art charity. It offers grants to help UK museums and galleries enrich their collections; campaigns on behalf of museums and their visitors; and promotes the enjoyment of art.  It is entirely funded from public donations and has 80,000 members. Since 1903 the charity has helped museums and galleries all over the UK secure 860,000 works of art for their collections. Recent achievements include: helping secure Titian’s Diana and Actaeon for the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Gallery, London in February 2009 with a grant of £1 million; helping secure Anthony d’Offay’s collection, ARTIST ROOMS, for Tate and National Galleries of Scotland in February 2008 with a grant of £1million; and running the ‘Buy a Brushstroke’ public appeal which raised over £550,000 to keep Turner’s Blue Rigi watercolour in the UK. For more information contact the Press Office on 020 7225 4888 or visit www.artfund.org.  The Art Fund is a Registered Charity No. 209174. 
  • The Wedgwood Museum was a £10.5 development, which was funded through a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £5.86 million, and through other corporate and individual funders.
  • Sky Arts is the TV Media Partner for this year’s Art Fund Prize.  A 30-minute film about The Art Fund Prize will be broadcast on 26 June on Sky Arts 1 at 6:00pm and on Sky Arts 2 on 27June at 7:30pm. For more information about the film, visit www.skyarts.co.uk/artfundprize.

 

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