LIVERPOOL.- The Walker Art Gallery enjoyed success last night as it scooped two awards at the annual Mersey Partnership (TMP) Tourism Awards held at the BT Convention Centre in Liverpool.
Displaying the most important collection of fine art in the North of England, the Walker is a favourite among visitors to the city and locals alike. In 2008, 396,356 people visited the gallery, with many coming to see the special exhibition Art in the Age of Steam, which clearly won the hearts of the public and the award judges at last night’s ceremony.
Beating an array of other successful events and attractions, the exhibition won awards for Tourism Experience of the Year and a new addition to the awards for 2009; the Tourism Marketing Project of the Year .
Hosted by BBC television presenter Ranvir Singh, 500 guests attended the ceremony and representatives from National Museums Liverpool included Phil Redmond, chair of the organisation.
Phil said: “I’m both delighted and proud that the Walker Art Gallery has received these two fantastic awards. Art in the Age of Steam was a major contribution to the Capital of Culture offering, and the Tourism Experience of the Year award is recognition of the vital role the gallery played in encouraging people from far and wide to visit Liverpool in 2008, as it has for the last 150 years, and indeed as it will in future years.
“Both awards are testament to the hard work that went on behind the scenes at National Museums Liverpool to stage such an ambitious exhibition, which showcased works from the world’s great art collections. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank NML staff for their hard work in Capital of Culture year and their efforts in maintaining the Walker Art Gallery as one of the city’s most popular visitor attractions.”
Opened by self-confessed train spotter and ‘anorak’ Michael Palin, Art in the Age of Steam attracted 113,476 visitors to the Walker during its run from 18 April to 10 August 2008, surpassing the original 75,000 visitor target set by 51%.
The exhibition was the most ambitious fine art exhibition ever staged at the Walker, and supported by an imaginative adult and family-focused events programme, became critically acclaimed in press on a local, national and international level.
Situated in the centre of Liverpool, the Walker is home to one of the best collections of fine and decorative art in Europe, where masterpieces of Rembrandt and Degas rub shoulders with works by contemporary stars such as Hockney and Doig.
From Wedgwood to Westwood, the stylish Craft and design Gallery boasts an eclectic collection and Big Art for Little Artists, our dedicated children’s gallery, brings art to life through paintings, sculpture, toys and costumes.
The Walker’s temporary exhibitions space hosts art from all over the world, and this summer will be displaying Cecil Beaton: Portraits, opening 26 June until 31 August. This major retrospective exhibition brings together captivating images from one of the most celebrated photographers of the twentieth century.
Showcasing the Walker’s own impressive collection of early 20th century British masterpieces, New Radicals: From Sickert to Freud opens 10 July until 20 September. The display explores the development of art in Britain from the start of the 20th century to the period just after the Second World War, telling the stories behind these unique works of art.
Reyahn King, director of art galleries for National Museums Liverpool said: “All the staff at the Walker Art Gallery are extremely pleased to have won these two prestigious awards, particularly in light of the city’s success as European Capital of Culture in 2008. They recognise the important contribution that galleries and major art exhibitions make to Liverpool as a tourist destination.”
The Walker is the only UK venue to have hosted a jointly-curated show like Art in the Age of Steam, win collaboration with the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, USA.