York Art Gallery’s fantastic transformation has paid off: it’s been shortlisted for this year’s Art Fund Museum Of The Year award, alongside prestigious museums such as the Victoria and Albert.
This year York Art Gallery have battled it out to become one of only five finalists.
The other finalists
Bethlem Museum of the Mind, Beckenham, Kent
Jupiter Artland, West Lothian
Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), London
Stephen Deuchar, Art Fund director, said:
Whether reaching audiences of thousands or millions, the best museums turn objects into culture, put audiences at the heart of their work, and engage with issues of the moment. This shortlist shows why and how UK museums lead the world.
Built in 1879, York Art Gallery’s collection spans 600 years, but the Museum of the Year nomination has been attributed to its recent £8 million redevelopment.
When the gallery reopened in August 2015 had gained 60% more exhibition space, including a new mezzanine floor within the beautiful original Victorian roof void, which had been hidden for more than 50 years.
A new balcony and entrance at the rear of the Gallery leads directly to a two-acre green space, which is now opened up to the public for the first time and features a new Artists’ Garden and Edible Wood.
All areas of the gallery are now accessible to all, and owners the York Museums Trust says the transformation and new displays have been very well received by visitors.
Locally the reopening caused controversy after the trust introduced an admission charge of £7.50 for York visitors who had previously enjoyed free entry.
Reyahn King, chief executive of York Museums Trust, said:
We believe the new and improved spaces are a fitting home to our nationally important collections and enable us to give the public a fresh approach to the display and understanding of ceramics.
We can achieve our ambitions to host internationally important exhibitions and extend the artistic offer to our gardens behind. With learning spaces, better facilities and a great welcome we think the gallery is a friendly, inspiring and fun place for our visitors.
We are extremely proud to be shortlisted and we hope that it will help us build on our growing reputation as one of the best art galleries in the country.
The winner will be announced on Wednesday 6 July 2016, to an invited audience of the UK’s museum and cultural leaders at the Natural History Museum in London.
In partnership with the BBC, the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2016 will be celebrated across the network in a series of broadcasts and online.