St Fagans National Museum of History, near Cardiff, has won Art Fund’s Museum of the Year award for 2019. It was chosen from a shortlist that also included HMS Caroline (Belfast), Nottingham Contemporary, Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford), and V&A Dundee.

The museum was presented with the £100,000 prize by artist Jeremy Deller at a ceremony last night in the Science Museum, London.

St Fagans is Wales’ most visited heritage attraction and is dedicated to exploring the history and culture of the country. Situated just outside Cardiff, it includes over 40 faithfully re-erected historical buildings from across Wales set within 100 acres of parkland.

In 2018 the museum completed a £30 million redevelopment to become Wales’ National Museum of History, opening new galleries and workshop spaces.

The redevelopment has provided an eight-fold increase in dedicated learning spaces, including the Weston Centre for Learning which opened in September 2017.

Throughout its six-year development, the museum remained open, attracting three million visitors.

The judges for this year’s award were: David Batchelor, artist; Brenda Emmanus, broadcaster and journalist; Bridget McConnell, chief executive, Glasgow Life; and Bill Sherman, director, Warburg Institute.

Stephen Deuchar, Art Fund director and chair of the judges, said: “St Fagans lives, breathes and embodies the culture and identity of Wales.”

He described it as a “monument to modern museum democracy”, adding that it “stands as one of the most welcoming and engaging museums anywhere in the UK”.

The Art Fund Museum of the Year prize is awarded annually to a museum, which, in the opinion of the judges, has shown ‘exceptional imagination, innovation and achievement across the preceding 12 months’.

Last year’s winner was Tate St Ives, with other previous winners including The Hepworth Wakefield (2017) and Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester (2015).

1-3. Art Fund Museum of the Year St. Fagan’s National History Museum. Photos: Marc Atkins © Marc Atkins / Art Fund 2019

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