Historic Wales wins Art Fund £100k prize

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St Fagans, Wales’s national museum of history near Cardiff, last won the £100,000 Art Fund Museum of the Year award.

The museum, which first opened in July 1948, beat the V&A Dundee, HMS Caroline in Belfast, Nottingham Contemporary, and the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, which al receive £10,000.

Images by Marc Atkins

“Everyone I met and saw at St Fagans was in constant, lively conversation about their shared history, culture and lived experiences” said Bridget McConnell, one of the judges and CEO of Glasgow Life. “This is their place – and it is strongly felt on every visit. It is heartening that the museum’s major supporter, the devolved Welsh government, has put culture at its core for the wide benefits of everyone in the country. This is truly a role model museum, and thanks to Art Fund Museum of the Year the world will now see its groundbreaking work.”


St Fagans, the first Welsh winner of the prize and part of the National Museums of Wales group, is an open air museum with 40 historical buildings, transported across the country and re-erected in 100 acres of parkland.

Last year it completed a £30m redevelopment and was given the title National Museum of History, with a new entrance in a structure dating from the 1970s. It has a 13th century prince's court, Iron Age roundhouses, and light industrial sites such as a clog-maker’s workshops, a tannery, a smithy and a boathouse.

It offers training in traditional skills including, quilting, pottery, stone-carving and woodworking, and the refurbishment has provided an eight-fold increase in learning spaces, with 67,000 children using the new Weston Learning Centre since it opened in September 2017. St Fagans is now Wales’s most visited attraction. https://museum.wales/stfagans/buildings/clogmaker/


Meanwhile last year’s winner, Tate St Ives, has announced that will use its prize money to develop a new community strategy with artists at its heart. The most recent project in the programme, pictured below by Kirstin Prisk, was Another Hurling of the Silver Ball, a performance last month decided by artist the Allard van Hoorn with local residents. https://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-st-ives


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