‘Exceptional Imagination, Innovation and Achievement’: St Fagans Named Museum of the Year

The Welsh open-air heritage attraction was awarded the £100,000 prize after a £30M redevelopment project

St Fagans Museum of History, Cardiff. Courtesy: Michael Gwyther-Jones

St Fagans Museum of History, Cardiff. Courtesy: Michael Gwyther-Jones

Art Fund have named St Fagans National Museum of History in Wales as the 2019 Museum of the Year. Announced by artist Jeremy Deller during a ceremony at the Science Museum in London on Wednesday evening, the heritage attraction will receive GBP£100,000, Britain’s largest museum cash prize, for ‘exceptional imagination, innovation and achievement’.

St Fagans, which is located on the outskirts of Cardiff, underwent a GBP£30M redevelopment project completed in October last year. Stephen Deuchar, director of Art Fund said during the announcement that St Fagans is a ‘monument to modern museum democracy, it has been transformed through a major development project involving the direct participation of hundreds of thousands of visitors and volunteers, putting the arts of making and building into fresh contexts.’

The revamped open-air museum is one of Wales’s most popular heritage attractions and boasts more than 40 historical buildings including a post-war prefab bungalow and roundhouses from the Iron Age. 

The prize was chaired by Deuchar and judges included artist David Batchelor, broadcaster Brenda Emmanus, the CEO of Glasgow Life, Bridget McConnell and the director of the Warburg Institute, Bill Sherman. McConnell commented on museum’s win, saying: ‘everyone I met and saw at St Fagans was in constant, lively conversation about their shared history, culture and lived experiences.’ 

The four shortlisted finalists of the annual prize were HMS Caroline in Belfast, Nottingham Contemporary, Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford and V&A Dundee, each of which will receive GBP£10,000. 

Last year, Tate St Ives gallery in Cornwall won Art Fund’s Museum of the year, with judges describing the gallery’s GBP£20M redevelopment by Jamie Fobert Architects as ‘deeply intelligent’ and a ‘profound experience’.

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