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William Morris Gallery wins Art Fund's Museum of the Year Award

Rebecca Atkinson, Museums Journal

The William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, London, has been named the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year 2013 following its £5m refurbishment. 

The £100,000 award was announced by Ian Hislop at a ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum this evening and announced live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row. 

The £10,000 Clore Award for Learning has been given to the Hepworth Wakefield. 

The two museums were among 10 shortlisted organisations for this year’s award. 

Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund and chair of the judges, said: “Despite the prevailing concern about public investment and arts funding in the UK, the 10 finalists for the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year have set world-class standards.

“The William Morris Gallery is truly Museum of the Year. Its extraordinary collections, beautifully presented, draw the visitor engagingly through Morris’s life and work and through the building itself. Setting the highest standards of curatorship, and reaching out impressively to its local community, it offers a memorable way of experiencing art of the highest quality in the context of a great historic personality.”

The museum reopened last August following a £5m modernisation on the building. It has welcomed more than 80,000 visitors its first six months. 

The artist Bob and Roberta Smith, who also sat on the judging panel, said: “We were presented by the William Morris Gallery with a tremendous story of optimism, hope and vision that equals Morris's own vision of celebrating human beings' creativity. In the current climate it's amazing to see a local authority realise the power of art in regenerating a borough."

The 10 shortlisted museums were: BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead; the Beaney, Canterbury; Dulwich Picture Gallery, London; the Hepworth Wakefield, Wakefield; Horniman Museum & Gardens, London; Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow; the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, Cambridge; Narberth Museum, Wales; Preston Park Museum, Stockton-on-Tees; and the William Morris Gallery, London.