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HRH The Duchess of Cambridge announces V&A winner of Museum of the Year 2016
Awards Dinner image © Richard Young Photographic Ltd.

LONDON.- The Victoria and Albert Museum was announced as the £100,000 winner of the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2016 by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge at a dinner and ceremony at the Natural History Museum, London, this evening.

Among the 370 guests at the dinner hosted by Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar, were: artists Antony Gormley, Grayson Perry, Michael Craig-Martin, Cornelia Parker, Mat Collishaw, Gavin Turk, Yinka Shonibare; museum directors, Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery; Sir Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate; Martin Roth, Director, V&A; Sir Michael Dixon, Director, Natural History Museum; Charles Saumarez-Smith, Chief Executive, Royal Academy of Arts; Axel Rüger, Director, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture, Communications & Creative Industries.

Art Fund awards the Museum of the Year prize annually to one outstanding museum, which, in the opinion of the judges, has shown exceptional imagination, innovation and achievement across the preceding 12 months. It is the biggest museum prize in the world and the largest arts award in Britain, recognising that despite the current challenges of funding and uncertain political climate, the UK museums sector is thriving.

Stephen Deuchar, Art Fund director and chair of the judges, said: ‘The V&A experience is an unforgettable one. Its recent exhibitions from Alexander McQueen to The Fabric of India, and the opening of its new Europe 1600 – 1815 galleries, were all exceptional accomplishments - at once entertaining and challenging, rooted in contemporary scholarship, and designed to reach and affect the lives of a large and diverse national audience. It was already one of the best-loved museums in the country: this year it has indisputably become one of the best museums in the world.”

The winner was chosen from five finalists: Arnolfini (Bristol), Bethlem Museum of the Mind (London), Jupiter Artland (Edinburgh), and York Art Gallery (Yorkshire).

2015 saw a remarkable transformation for the V&A. It attracted nearly 3.9 million visitors to V&A sites, 14.5 million visitors online and 90,000 V&A Members, the highest in the Museum’s 164-year history. December 2015 saw the ‘Europe 1600-1815’ galleries opening to great acclaim. This major gallery restoration project transformed seven prominent galleries and redisplayed and reinterpreted this world-renowned collection of 17th and 18th century art and design. 2015 also heralded one of their most popular exhibition programmes. ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ became the V&A’s most-visited exhibition, attracting a record breaking 493,043 visitors from 87 countries, while the ‘India Festival’ of exhibitions engaged visitors in the rich and varied culture of South Asia. While a major fundraising appeal reunited four angels originally created for the tomb of Cardinal Wolsey, one of the most powerful men in Tudor England.

The judges for Museum of the Year 2016 are: Gus Casely-Hayford, curator and art historian; Will Gompertz, BBC Arts Editor; Ludmilla Jordanova, Professor of History and Visual Culture, Durham University; Cornelia Parker, artist; Stephen Deuchar (chair of the judging panel), Director, Art Fund.

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