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£200,000 investment in UK museums from Art Fund

Art Fund steps up fight for survival of the UK’s museums and galleries as leading museums re-open

On the eve of the re-opening of museums around the UK, from nationals Tate and the V&A to Turner Contemporary and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the UK’s largest arts charity, Art Fund, today launched a campaign for museums, with the announcement of plans for a special edition of Art Fund Museum of the Year and a week celebrating museums, running from 12 October 2020.

Above: Tate St. Ives, Museum of the Year finalist and winner 2018

The week will begin with the announcement on Monday 12 October of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020, the biggest museum prize in the world. Recognising the challenges that museums face this year, the prize money awarded will go up to a total of £200,000, a 40% increase over previous years, and be equally divided between five winning museums, chosen for their achievements in the year 2019-2020.

The Judges for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020 are: Jago Cooper, Curator of the Americas, The British Museum; Dame Liz Forgan (Chair), Trustee, Art Fund; Ryan Gander, artist; Melanie Keen, Director, The Wellcome Collection; and Jenny Waldman, Director, Art Fund.

The week will champion the UK’s museum sector, amongst the largest and most vibrant in the world. It will put the spotlight on museums with a varied programme of Art Fund events, debates and social activity – giving an opportunity to get involved at a time when they need us most.

There are around 2,500 museums in the UK, large and small, national and local, many of them free, featuring everything from art and design to science, military and industrial heritage, and natural and maritime history. They have a vital role to play in the recovery of the country but even as they re-open across the summer and autumn their future is uncertain. While the immediate response of public and other funders and the UK government’s rescue package for culture is welcome, museums’ finances have been shattered by closures and by the social distancing measures currently in place. They still face huge challenges in the months and years ahead.

Art Fund has already recognised the crisis in the museums sector, announcing funding and resources of more than £2 million to support museums and galleries through reopening and beyond at a time when many museums will be losing more money by opening their doors than remaining closed. It

has also invited its members to come together to donate and support museums and galleries during the biggest challenge of our lifetime through the fundraising campaign #TogetherforMuseums.

Jenny Waldman, Director of Art Fund, said: “It’s exciting that we can begin to visit our inspiring museums again, but just because the doors are reopening it doesn’t mean they are ok. They can’t survive long-term with a fraction of visitors and they’re continuing to navigate the huge challenges of Covid-19. This exceptional edition of Art Fund Museum of the Year will shine a spotlight on the incredible value museums bring to communities across the UK.”

St Fagans National Museum of History in Wales won the £100,000 Art Fund Museum of the Year prize in 2019. It plans to reopen in phases starting on 4 August 2020.

David Anderson, Director General, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, said: “When National Museum Cardiff opened in 1928 the world had not long moved on from the horrors of the First World War and a global flu pandemic. Over the last century, our contribution to the development of Wales and its cultural life has been almost beyond measure.

“Winning Art Fund Museum of the Year has helped us to fulfil our mission – to help people and communities in Wales to have a better and culturally richer life, to protect our natural environment, and to sustain and build our connections with peoples in Europe and across the world. Over the last few months we have had an extraordinary response to our ‘Collecting Covid’ project asking the people of Wales to be part of the story by sharing their experiences and feelings of living in Wales during the crisis, and on into the future. Already, over 1000 people have contributed personal and often deeply moving testimonies. This will form an important record of the pandemic for future generations.”

Art Fund Museum of the Year will continue its partnership with the BBC in 2020, with more coverage to be announced in due course.

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