COUNTY DURHAM.- The Bowes Museum
was among the top prize winners in the 2009 Museums & Heritage Awards for Excellence, announced at a prestigious ceremony at Londons Church House, Westminster.
Following a champagne reception and dinner, the Awards ceremony was announced by broadcaster and journalist, Simon Calder, who announced the winners in each of the twelve categories, at one point referring to the Museum as the beautiful Bowes Museum.
The Bowes Museum was the joint winner of the Restoration and Conservation Award for its work in conserving its internationally famous Silver Swan musical automaton in full view of the public in a project costing a comparatively modest £34,500.
Jane Whittaker, the Museums Principal Keeper, attended the ceremony and was delighted to pick up the award on behalf of all involved.
We were thrilled when we heard the project had been shortlisted in this category, but to win is a marvellous acknowledgement of the talented team who worked on it, she said. We also extend our congratulations to the other joint winner in our category, the Stanley Mills Project, and to the other winners.
Jane also acknowledged that the success of the project was largely due to horologist Matthew Read, whose skills and enthusiasm carried it through to such a successful conclusion.
Specially commissioned by the Museum to dismantle, clean and record the Swan, and to put all six thousand pieces back together again, Matthew and his assistant, conservator Karen Barker, spent ten weeks undertaking this daunting task with great good humour, in full glare of the public gaze.
The Swan conservation project was funded by the Friends of The Bowes Museum, The Goldsmiths Company, The Schroder Charity Trust, the Heritage Lottery Fund and PRISM Grant Fund (MLA).
Anna Preedy, Director of the Museums & Heritage Show and founder of the Museums & Heritage Awards for Excellence, said: Despite challenging economic times, the creativity and determination of this sector has never been more evident and it was a great privilege to be able to celebrate the impressive achievements of so many. The event really is one to remember the diversity of the projects submitted was truly remarkable and it is enormously uplifting to see what a difference so many of them have made in encouraging new audiences to our museums, galleries and heritage visitor attractions and often working within extremely tight budgetary constraints.
Created by The Museums & Heritage Show, the sectors largest annual trade exhibition, the Awards aim to recognise and celebrate best practice within the world of museums, galleries and heritage visitor attractions.
Over 250 industry professionals from all over the world joined us to celebrate the achievements of the UKs museums, galleries and heritage visitor attractions. The Awards provide those within the industry a rare occasion to celebrate the spectacular projects that are taking place in the UKs cultural attractions today.
The Awards were judged by a panel of industry professionals, including: Bernard Donoghue, Head of Government and Public Affairs at VisitBritain; Diane Lees, Director of V&A Museum of Childhood; Matthew Tanner MBE, Director of ssGreat Britain; Marie Roberts, Editor of the Museums and Heritage Magazine and Sam Mullins, Director of London Transport Museum.
The prestigious Award of Outstanding Contribution by an Individual Award, sponsored by VisitBritain, went to Professor Phil Redmond CBE, The Creative Director of The Liverpool European Capital of Culture 2008 & Chair of National Museums, Liverpool.
With hundreds of entries received the winners spanned the entire industry, with both operators and suppliers collecting Awards.