Friday, July 08, 2016

V&A wins Art Fund's £100,000 Museum of the Year Award 2016

The Art Fund Museum of the Year Award is one which many art museums across the UK yearn to win - not least because it brings with it a £100,000 prize and the accolade which can go on all their marketing to both fans and tourists.

This blog post is about the Award, who won it this year (the V&A) and my commentary on the achievements of the V&A and a major problem which needs to be resolved very fast! Plus at the end blog posts I've written in the past about the whole range of aspects of the V&A

There's a clear purpose behind the criteria used to judge which museum should win - and that primarily focuses on the ability of a museum to engage with its audience and inform and extend understanding of the exhibitions, artifacts and exhibitions.
The judges will present the 2016 Prize to the museum or gallery that has best achieved some or all of the following criteria:
  • Undertaken projects that will provide a lasting legacy or have a transformative effect on the museum.
  • Brought its collections to life for audiences – engaging, inspiring and extending public understanding.
  • Delivered an original audience development, learning or outreach programme.
  • Clearly won the support and enthusiasm of its visitors and users.

The 2016 Winner of the Art Fund Museum of Year Award


The winner for 2016 is the Victoria and Albert Museum ("the V&A") in South Kensington - which characterises itself as the world’s leading museum of art and design.


The exterior of the Victoria and Albert Museum on the Cromwell Road in South Kensington
The other finalists were: the Arnolfini (Bristol), Bethlem Museum of the Mind (London), Jupiter Artland (West Lothian), and York Art Gallery (Yorkshire).

The judges for Museum of the Year 2016 were: 
  • Gus Casely-Hayford, curator and art historian; 
  • Will Gompertz, BBC Arts editor; 
  • Ludmilla Jordanova, professor of History and Visual Culture, Durham University; 
  • Cornelia Parker, artist; 
  • Stephen Deuchar (chair of the panel), director, Art Fund.
I can't say I'm surprised that the V&A won. The way in which the museum has overhauled both its galleries, its collection and the raised its game in terms of attracting huge numbers to its exhibitions made it a natural candidate for this award.

In introducing the prize in the video below, Stephen Deuchar, the Art Fund director and chair of the judges says
"It's all about the power of people to animate collections and institutions"


The V&A sneaked it because it's a global treasure 
Will Gompertz - Museum of the Year 2016 Judge
Highlights of recent times at the V&A have included:
  • the enormous numbers visiting the V&A for the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition (but note my comment below about how easy it is to access the exhibition through the new website
Installation view of 'Romantic Naturalism' gallery, Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A

(c) Victoria and Albert Museum London
The Facade on the Exhibition Road side of the V&A - After the restoration and cleaning

The major failure of the V&A 


If there is one thing I'd criticise the V&A for it's the absolutely appalling implementation of their new website which leaves the public locked out of the massive content on the old website prior to its move to the new website. The only way content can be accessed is by knowing it exists and then searching for it on Google with quite a precise search query.

There are also 301 redirects for past pages meaning that carefully collected and curated links now throw up a "Content no longer available" message - which is just infuriating!

For example:
  • The term "Alexander McQueen" returns no response on the search query on the new website. 
  • The search term "Savage Beauty" also does not exist on the new website
Website Co-ordinators and those responsible for communicating with the public have really got to understand that VIRTUAL ARCHIVES and past documentation are as important as what is going on right now!

Whoever is responsible for this website also needs a massive shake-up!

The importance of the Virtual Museum


An Art Museum these days is a lot more than its structure and contents. Its virtual existence is at least as important in terms of education and promoting the delivery of improved knowledge and understanding.

I'd suggest that in future the Art Fund Museum of the Year judges look at how well a museum delivers online to its audience around the world as well as on the ground to those actually visiting the museum building.


More about the Art Museum of the Year Award

To read more about the Award see the following articles. I've missed out those which were more focused on the stunning frock worn by the Duchess of Cambridge!


Past blog posts about the V&A


Galleries

Exhibitions & Policies

Collections:

Education

Projects

Facilities


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