South Gallery, The Whitworth Gallery (c) David Levene

Whitworth wins Museum of the Year 2015

Rebecca Atkinson, 02.07.2015
Gallery's £15m redevelopment praised for creating welcoming space
The Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester has been named the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2015.

The gallery, which reopened in February following a £15m redevelopment, was praised by the judges for redefining the way that it engages with the public and connecting the building and the surrounding park to create a welcoming space.

Maria Balshaw, the director of the Whitworth, was presented with the £100,000 prize by the novelist Ben Okri at a ceremony at Tate Modern.

“The transformation of the Whitworth – architecturally, curatorially, and as a destination – has been one of the great museum achievements of recent years,” said Stephen Deuchar, chairman of the judges and director of the Art Fund.

“Its galleries offer intellectual, visual and creative stimulus of the highest order. The collections are innovatively presented, the community engagement programmes are both original and unusual, and the visitor experience is exceptional throughout. 

“We were particularly taken with the relationship between the reconceived building and its surrounding park: museum, locality and community merge as if one. And in a wider sense the Whitworth has changed the landscape:  it truly feels like a museum of the future.”

The gallery was one of six museums shortlisted for the prize; the Imperial War Museum London; Oxford University Museum of Natural History; Dunham Massey, a National Trust property in Altrincham; the HM Tower of London, part of Historic Royal Palaces; and the MAC in Belfast.

The Museum of the Year was won by Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2014 and London's William Morris Gallery in 2013.