Museum which moved to former nuclear bunker wins top gong


A museum which moved to a former nuclear bunker has won a top award.

Art Fund Museum Of The Year has been awarded to five venues, sharing a £200,000 prize.

They include Gairloch Museum, in Scotland, which recently relocated to a new home.

The move was the culmination of an eight-year, £2.4 million redevelopment project realised by the local community and more than 120 volunteers.

One donor wrote that the “project has transformed the ugliest and most neglected building in Gairloch (the bunker) into its greatest attraction.”

Other winners are Aberdeen Art Gallery, Towner Eastbourne, and in London, the Science Museum and South London Gallery.

Art Fund director Jenny Waldman said: “The winners are exceptional examples of museums offering inspiration, reflection and joy in the heart of communities.

“The UK’s museums – admired worldwide and vital locally – were thriving before Covid-19.

“They can help rebuild our communities and confidence as we emerge from the virus. But they face financial peril.

“Not only do we need sustained investment from government, but we encourage everyone to go and explore their local museum – they need our support now.”

Aberdeen Art Gallery was praised for an “ambitious redevelopment project in the museum’s 135-year history, completely reimagining the gallery so its extraordinary treasures, and the stories they tell can be celebrated, shared and better understood.”

Judges said the Science Museum enjoyed a “landmark year which saw the museum inspire the next generation of scientists”.

South London Gallery, which has received Government money through the Culture Recovery Fund, recently doubled in size through the opening of a neighbouring site in a former Fire Station.

Judges praised Towner Eastbourne, an art gallery on the East Sussex coast, which has also received funding, for its “commitment to promoting under-represented artists in its programme, and its newly cemented status as an invaluable asset to Eastbourne.”

All five winners will stage digital events and activities to celebrate their win this week, including storytelling by Outlander star Sam Heughan, a panel discussion on art and sustainability with Caroline Lucas and chaired by David Dimbleby, a live archaeological dig, and a “museum mindfulness retreat”.