Museum of the year: Manchester’s Whitworth Gallery wins Art Fund’s top accolade
The venue beat off an impressive shortlist, including Oxford University Museum of National History and London’s Imperial War Museums, to the £100,000 Art Fund prize.
Explaining the jury’s descision, Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar said that ’the transformation of the Whitworth – architecturally, curatorially, and as a destination – has been one of the great[est] museum achievements of recent years.’ During 2014 the museum underwent a huge £15m redevelopment by London-based architects MUMA, reopening in February.
The remodel – which also won them RIBA National award earlier this year – added a glass and brick extension to the main structure and pushed the building further into the manicured garden area. Director Maria Balshaw saw this expansion as a connection between the gallery and park-goers, allowing them to view straight into the space and hopefully inviting them in.
Extra floor (and wall) space enabled them to host larger scale installations, too. Contemporary artist Cornelia Parker’s Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded Viewa colossal work of elevated material fragments, went on show during the spring months. The vast works of Sarah Lucas and Thomas Schutte are due to follow later this summer.
Since reopening, over 200,000 spectators have visited the museum; a number which will continue to soar.