Gairloch Museum and Aberdeen Art Gallery have been announced as winners of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020, which is 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 based on their achievements in 2019 – 2020. The announcement was made on BBC One’s The One Show with contemporary artist, writer and producer Grayson Perry.
In response to the huge challenges and financial pressures currently facing museums, this year the total prize money has increased to £200,000 and will be divided equally between five winners.
The five 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).
The announcement kicks off a week-long celebration (Monday 12 October – Friday 16 October) featuring live-streamed talks, events and digital activity, giving an inspiring opportunity to get involved with museums all over the country.
I was thrilled to hear that not one but two Scottish venues had been chosen amongst the five winners of the Art Fund’s prestigious Museum Of The Year prize.
Although very different in their cultural offerings, Aberdeen Art Gallery and Gairloch Museum are equally deserving of this accolade, having both made huge efforts to demonstrate - for the purposes of this award - that their work over the previous year has stood out way beyond that of their competitors.
At the heart of Gairloch Museum’s relocation and reopening has been a huge community effort from a fantastic volunteer base, to successfully secure £2.4 million in funding to redevelop and transform a derelict military bunker into such a fantastic new visitor attraction. For such a small community, this is inspirational.
Aberdeen Art Gallery reopened in November following its ambitious £34.6 million redevelopment. It is not only a beautiful building and world-class arts complex but also an exciting visitor destination, blending the historic with the contemporary.
I would like to personally congratulate both venues for shining a spotlight on, and further strengthening, the cultural offering for visitors to Scotland during what has been a hugely challenging year for the tourism industry.
You can tune into Aberdeen Art Gallery's Spotify playlist which celebrates works from their collection, and listen to Outlander star, Sam Heughan, voice the folktale of Ghillie Dhu (which is local to Gairloch) in a new film, along with much more.
For more information on the Art Fund Museum of the Year programme and this year's online celebration, content and events, visit the Art Fund website.