William Morris Gallery enjoys "breathtaking" Art Fund Museum of Year win

By Ben Miller | 05 June 2013

Inundated with congratulations since winning the flagship prize for British museums last night, Walthamstow's William Morris Gallery, which once faced decisions over its very future, now faces the dilemma of how to spend its £100,000 reward.

A photo of people on stage at an awards ceremony
© Simon Rawles
Speaking at last night’s ceremony, Stephen Deuchar, the director of organisers the Art Fund and chair of a judging panel which toured all ten longlisted museums, said the gallery had set “the highest standards of curatorship” and “reached out impressively to its local community.”

“We were overjoyed to be nominated,” reflects Chris Robbins, the Leader of Waltham Forest Council.

“To actually win is absolutely breathtaking.

“Given the financial challenges councils are facing money is obviously tight, but we’ve made a commitment to the William Morris Gallery and ensuring its transformation forms a cornerstone in our ambitious regeneration plans for Waltham Forest.

“We’re now deciding what we’ll spend the money on. I can guarantee that it will make a real, tangible difference to the Gallery itself and to the experience of visitors, whether they live in Walthamstow, come as part of a school visit or have travelled from another country to explore Morris’ extraordinary vision.”

Reopened in August 2012, the venue’s £10 million redevelopment has been richly rewarded.

“The competition was fierce,” admits Robbins.

“Given the calibre and diversity of the other museums, it’s a real testament to the vision of the Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund and our other partners that we came out on top.”

The future in this leafy corner of London looks even more exciting.

More pictures:

A photo of people on stage at an awards ceremony
The ceremony was held at the Victoria and Albert Museum© Simon Rawles
A photo of four people inside a modern museum gallery
The Art Fund judges heaped praise upon the new-look venue© Simon Rawles
A photo of a book lying open among a display inside a museum gallery
A £10 million redevelopment saw the displays re-open in 2012© Simon Rawles
A photo of a stained glass window showing two biblical figures in profile
Windows with a view in Walthamstow© Simon Rawles
A photo of people milling around inside a museum gallery
The Gallery's Workshop space© Simon Rawles
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