The Horniman Museum & Gardens has been announced as Art Fund Museum of the Year 2022.
The museum in south-east London was named winner of the £100,000 prize at a ceremony in London’s Design Museum last night.
It saw off competition from four other finalists: Derby’s Museum of Making, the People’s History Museum in Manchester, the Story Museum in Oxford and Wrexham’s Tŷ Pawb, a new gallery and community hub in north Wales.
The four shortlisted museums were each awarded £15,000.
The Horniman was commended for transforming its 2021 community programme in response to the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests, and its commitment to engaging the public in the climate and ecological emergency.
Highlights of its activity in 2021 included the 696 Programme, a celebration of South London music from Afrofuturist hip-hop to reggae, jazz and soul. Intended to showcase Black British creativity, the programme featured a sold-out live music festival that attracted 8,000 visitors, along with Dance Can’t Nice, an exhibition exploring London's Black music spaces.
The museum also took action on the pledges of its Climate and Ecology Manifesto, introducing an online community of Environment Champions, embedding more sustainable gardening practices, and planting a micro-forest to help combat air pollution.
Jenny Waldman, Art Fund director and chair of this year's judging panel, 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.”
Horniman director Nick Merriman said: “To be awarded Art Fund Museum of the Year, when the other finalists have such wonderful achievements to share, is an incredible honour. Thank you to the judges and to Art Fund. I particularly want to pay tribute to everyone involved in the Horniman, in whatever capacity, in 2021.
“It takes a community of people to create a museum that truly serves its local area. People love museums – we hear ‘I love the Horniman’ a lot – and this award is a great endorsement of love as a motivation for the work that we do here; love for our communities and love for the world we all share.”