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London museum wins world’s largest museum prize

A London museum focused on inspiring the next generation has won the largest museum prize in the world.

The annual award recognises a museum or gallery for a “track record of imagination, innovation and excellence”.

On Thursday (14 July), The Horniman Museum and Gardens was crowned the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year for transforming its 2021 community programme to reflect on the climate emergency and Black Lives Matter protests.

Officials created a micro-forest to combat local air pollution and curated the 696 festival, incorporating the black British sounds of south London through gigs, installations, collaborations, and a summer music festival.

It is also London’s only museum to exhibit environmental, ecological, and human culture side-by-side.

During the ceremony at the Design Museum in London, Horniman’s director, Nick Merriman, was presented with the £100,000 prize by BBC Radio 6 DJ and judge Huw Stephens.

It beat Derby Museums, Museum of Making, People’s History Museum in Manchester, The Story Museum in Oxford and art gallery Tŷ Pawb in Wrexham.

Each of the finalist museums have received a £15,000 prize in recognition of their achievements.

Jenny Waldman, Art Fund director and chair of the judges for Art Fund Museum of the Year, 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.”

She added: “In many ways it’s the perfect museum and I would encourage everyone to go and experience all it has to offer.”

Last year’s winner was Firstsite in Colchester in Essex, after it transformed into a food bank and helped serve free school meals during the pandemic.

Additional reporting from Press Association

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