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Horniman Museum and Gardens wins Art Fund Museum of the Year 2022

The Horniman Museum and Gardens was announced as Art Fund Museum of the Year 2022 this evening at a ceremony at the Design Museum in London and live on the BBC.

Located in Forest Hill, the Horniman Museum and Gardens is London’s only museum where environment, ecology and human cultures can be seen side by side at a global scale. During 2021, following a period of reflection prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic, climate emergency and the murder of George Floyd, they reimagined the role they could play as a creative hub for their local community. The result was a transformational Reset Agenda – an ambitious programme focused on re-orientating activity to reach diverse audiences more representative of London. This included embedding a Climate and Ecology Manifesto, from an online club of Environment Champions to the creation of a micro-forest to combat local air pollution. From a takeover of the galleries by children to its youth panel of 14-19-year-olds, work experience opportunities and Kickstart apprenticeships, the museum is inspiring the next generation.

A further focus of the Reset Agenda was the 696 Programme, an interrogation of the power and responsibility public organisations have in supporting local music. Showcasing Black British creativity and placing it at the Horniman's heart, a sold-out festival reached 8000 visitors and nearly 20,000 experienced the related exhibition. The Horniman is also spearheading the collaboration amongst museums through its MAGNET group of organisations sharing collections-based touring exhibitions.

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, said: ‘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 winner was one of five finalists. The other shortlisted museums were: Derby Museums, Museum of Making (Derby); 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 members of this year’s judging panel, chaired by Art Fund Director Jenny Waldman, were: 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.

The news was announced live on BBC One’s The One Show, which is available to watch via BBC iPlayer.

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