The £100,000 award – the largest museum prize in the world – was presented by DJ and broadcaster Huw Stephens at a ceremony in the spectacular setting of the Design Museum, London.
The winner was selected from five shortlisted museums: Derby Museums, Museum of Making (Derby), Horniman Museum and Gardens (London), People’s History Museum (Manchester), The Story Museum (Oxford) and Tŷ Pawb (Wrexham). Each of the other finalist museums receives a £15,000 prize in recognition of their achievements.
The Horniman Museum and Gardens was recognised for its transformational programme in 2021, re-orientating its activity to reach diverse audiences more representative of London and engaging people in addressing the climate emergency.
To be awarded Art Fund Museum of the Year, when the other finalists have such wonderful achievements to share, is an incredible honour. Thank you to the judges and to Art Fund. I particularly want to pay tribute to everyone involved in the Horniman, in whatever capacity, in 2021.
It takes a community of people to create a museum that truly serves its local area. People love museums – we hear “I love the Horniman” a lot – and this award is a great endorsement of love as a motivation for the work that we do here; love for our communities and love for the world we all share
2021 highlights at the Horniman, under its Reset Agenda included:
- the 696 Programme, a celebration of South London music – from Afrofuturist hip-hop to reggae, jazz and soul. Showcasing Black British creativity, the sold-out live music festival attracted 8,000 visitors and nearly 20,000 visited the Dance Can’t Nice exhibition.
- fulfilling the pledges of its Climate and Ecology Manifesto, including an online community of Environment Champions, embedding more sustainable gardening practices, and planting a micro-forest to help combat air pollution along the South Circular
- inspiring the next generation, from a children’s takeover of the galleries to the Horniman’s youth panel of 14-19 year olds, and providing curriculum-linked school workshops, work experience opportunities and Kickstart apprenticeships
- spearheading the MAGNET group of organisations, sharing collections-based touring exhibitions, starting with Hair: Untold Stories at the Horniman.
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.
The Horniman plans to use the £100,000 prize money to fund:
- three years of a Resident Artist programme linking young musicians with its musical instrument collection, as a stimulus for them to create new work, and
- a programme of outdoor learning activities in the school holidays, particularly aimed at pupils in receipt of free school meals.
Art Fund, the UK’s national charity for art, awards Art Fund Museum of the Year annually to one outstanding museum. The 2022 edition champions organisations whose achievements tell the story of museums’ creativity and resilience, and particularly focuses on those engaging the next generation of audiences in innovative ways.
The members of this year’s judging panel, chaired by Art Fund Director Jenny Waldman, are: 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 Music DJ and broadcaster.