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William Morris Gallery scoops museum of the year award

Elizabeth Hopkirk, Building Design

Gallery named ‘museum of the year’ after architect’s £14 million transformation

Pringle Richards Sharratt’s redevelopment of the William Morris Gallery in north-east London has won it the title Museum of the Year.

The grade II* 18th-century building is the UK’s only gallery dedicated to the life and works of William Morris, the designer, decorator, environmentalist and activist.

A £10 million refurbishment and £3.7 million orangery-inspired extension by Pringle Richards Sharratt opened last year.

The prize was announced today in a ceremony at the V&A where the project was described as a redevelopment that brought a “rather tired museum thrillingly back to life”.

Stephen Deuchar, director of The Art Fund and chair of the judges, praised a local campaign to save the museum, and Waltham Forest council’s response. 

He said the local authority discovered “what they might have thought was a sleepy old museum that could be humanely put down, could in fact be revitalised and that is what has happened. In these difficult times for an area of London facing many other pressures, to put in £1.5 million was a great and responsive act.”

The Heritage Lottery Fund also contributed £1.5 million.

The renovated gallery reinterprets Morris for a 21st century audience, telling the story of his life and achievements in the grand Walthamstow house he grew up in.

It has space for visiting shows and will be the first UK venue to show Jeremy Deller’s current exhibition at the Venice Biennale. 

© Building Design