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Horniman Museum and Gardens Announced as Art Fund Museum of the Year 2022

Nick Merriman, Chief Executive for the Horniman Museum and Gardens receives award


Art Fund has announced the Horniman Museum and Gardens as winner of the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2022 at the prestigious award ceremony held on 14th July at the Design Museum in London. The museum takes home £100,000 in prize money alongside the award – the largest museum prize in the world.

The Horniman Museum and Gardens in London led a diverse shortlist of high calibre finalists to be recognised as the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2022.  The museum came out top against strong competition from Derby Museums, the Museum of Making, the People’s History Museum in Manchester, The Story Museum in Oxford and Tŷ Pawb in Wrexham.  Each of the finalists received £15,000 in recognition of their achievements by the Art Fund.

At the ceremony on the 14th July, Nick Merriman, director of the Horniman Museum and Gardens was presented with the £100,000 prize by DJ and broadcaster, Huw Stephens.

The Horniman Museum and Gardens was praised by the judges for its ‘eclectic collections’ and ‘reinvention through powerful ideas’ as London’s only museum where environment, ecology and human cultures can be seen side-by-side on a global scale.

Winning Museum of the Year 2022 recognises the raft of changes made by the Forest Hill museum in response to several major events, creating a shift in mindset between the museum team and its visitors.  Specifically, the Covid-pandemic, climate emergency and the murder of George Floyd initiated a period of reflection in which the museum reimagined the role it could play as a creative hub for their local community.

This transformational shift became known as the Reset Agenda.  A programme designed to re-orient the activity of the Horniman Museum to reach audiences which represented the diverse population of London.  Examples of the change initiated by the Reset Agenda included a Climate and Ecology Manifesto, an online club of Environment Champions and the creation of a micro-forest to combat local air pollution.

The museum is also very much focused on inspiring the next generation of talent in the sector, supporting a children’s takeover of its galleries and developing new work experience opportunities and Kickstart apprenticeships.

The Reset Agenda also had a more specific focus as part of the 696 programme to interrogate the power and responsibility public organisations have in supporting local music.  A sold-out festival reached 8,000 visitors, while nearly 20,000 visited the related exhibition showcasing Black British creativity.

Jenny Waldman, Art Fund director and chair of the judges for Art Fund Museum of the Year, said:

“The Horniman Museum and Gardens has now blossomed into a truly holistic museum bringing together art, nature and its myriad collections.  Its values are woven through everything it now does, with a passionate team breathing life and meaning into every object, performance, plant and animal.  In many ways it’s the perfect museum, and I would encourage everyone to go and experience all it has to offer.”

Dame Diane Lees, Director-General, Imperial War Museums, and judge for Art fund Museum of the Year 2022, added:

“The Horniman Museum and Gardens are championing the natural environment, commissioning artists and music festivals, to bring the eclectic collections of Frederick Horniman new relevance with diverse communities.  They are setting the agenda for how a traditional museum can reinvent itself through powerful ideas.”

The judging panel for the Art Fund Museum of the Year was chaired by Art Fund Director Jenny Waldman with fellow panellists including Dame Diane Lees, Director-General, Imperial War Museums; Harold Offeh, artist and educator; Dr Janina Ramirez, cultural historian and broadcaster; and Huw Stephens, BBC Radio 6 DJ and broadcaster.

Art Fund has supported the Museum of the Year since 2008 and is the UK’s national charity for art.  It’s annual Museum of the Year prize aims to shine a light on what museums do and get to the heart of what makes a museum outstanding. The 2022 award more specifically champions organisations whose achievements tell the story of museums’ creativity, resilience and efforts to engage the next generation of audiences in new and innovative ways.

For further information on the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2022, please visit www.artfund.org.  

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