The Burrell Collection has received a £120,000 prize after taking first place in the prestigious Art Fund Museum of the Year – considered “the world’s greatest museum award”.
And the win, which saw the Glasgow venue beat out stiff competition from the likes of the 142-year-old Natural History Museum in London, comes as the award marks ten years of honoring cultural venues across the UK.
Duncan Dornan, Glasgow Life’s Head of Museums and Collections, was presented with the award by artist Sir Grayson Perry at a ceremony at the British Museum in London on Wednesday evening.
Art fund director Jenny Waldman praised the “sensitive renovation” and its “innovative digital displays.”
READ MORE: First look inside the Burrell Collection after a £69million makeover
Located in the heart of Pollok Country Park, the venue was closed to the public for six years as part of its £68million refurbishment before finally reopening in March last year.
Ms. Waldman said: “The Burrell Collection is exceptional – a world-class collection displayed in an inspiring building, in harmony with the surrounding landscape of Pollok Country Park.
“Reopened in 2022, the sensitive renovation and re-exhibition of the collection invites exploration and enjoyment. Innovative digital displays offer new ways to understand the art and objects in the museum’s bright, welcoming spaces.”
The Burrell Collection, managed by Glasgow Life, houses the 9,000-item collection of Sir William and Constance Burrell.
While the public was welcomed back to the venue in March 2022, it was not until October that King Charles officially reopened it in Glasgow as part of his first official engagement since ascending the throne.
READ MORE: The £69million Burrell makeover pays off with 500,000 visitors
One of the judges, historian and broadcaster Mary Beard, described the attraction as “a treasure trove of objects to be discovered.”
After the renovation, the gallery space was increased by more than a third – making room for unique pieces that haven’t been seen in decades.
More than 90 digital displays now also offer interactive and immersive experiences throughout the venue.
The new exhibition was co-curated with a variety of community groups to present different perspectives.
Ms Beard said: “The Burrell Collection is a treasure trove of objects to be discovered. It ranges from one of the UK’s most important collections of Chinese art, to medieval tapestries and stained glass, to artworks by Rembrandt, Degas and others.”
“They have recognized with great accuracy and imagination how profound it is when a museum is accessible. I want to encourage everyone to go and experience it.”
The year after it reopened, the attraction welcomed more than 500,000 people. It contributed £20m to Glasgow’s economy in the first six months of its return.
Ms Waldman, who was also Chair of the Jury for Art Fund Museum of the Year, added: “All of this has been achieved with a strong common purpose and with the involvement of local community groups in Glasgow.
“Congratulations to the talented team at the Burrell Collection for being named Art Fund Museum of the Year 2023 and to all who invest in supporting its important work.
“Thanks to them, this museum really is accessible to everyone.”
Glasgow’s museum won’t be the only Scottish attraction to receive a cash prize from the Art Fund, however.
Each of the remaining four shortlisted buildings, including the Scapa Flow Museum in the Orkney Islands, will receive £15,000.
That means the total prize pool for this year has been increased to £180,000 for 2023 as the arts fund celebrates 120 years of supporting museums.
The Orkney Islands’ Scapa Flow Museum also recently underwent a major refurbishment after eight years of fundraising.
Located on Hoy, the attraction reveals the island’s history as the UK’s main naval center during both world wars.
The Museum of the Year award is funded by National Art Passes purchased by members of the Art Fund.
New research commissioned to mark the award’s tenth anniversary found that a nomination helped museums attract visitors, had a positive impact on community cohesion and engagement, and unlocked additional public and private funding.
Other museums shortlisted for this year’s award included Leighton House and the Natural History Museum in London, and The MAC in Belfast.
This year’s jury consisted of artist Larry Achiampong, author Abadesi Osunsade, director of the National Museum Liverpool Laura Pye, and Ms Beard and Ms Waldman.