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Horniman Museum and Gardens has won Art Fund Museum of the Year 2022

Students visit the Horniman Museum and Gardens, London, June 2022
Students visit the Horniman Museum and Gardens, London, June 2022   -   Copyright  Amaal Said   -  
By Charlotte Elton

Horniman Museum and Gardens has been voted the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2022. 

The UK boasts some of the best museums in the world, but with hundreds of galleries and exhibitions dotted across the country, it can be hard to know where to start.

Every year, Art Fund whittle down a list of the best museums in the UK for its prestigious Museum of the Year Award. 

The five finalists offer something for everyone, from immersive libraries to active political campaigns.

Horniman Museum and Gardens was announced as the winner last night when the museum director, Nick Merriman, was presented with the £100,000 (€118,000) prize, the largest museum prize in the world. 

The four shortlisters will each receive £15,000 (€17,000).

Read more about the Horniman and the other nominated museums below and decide which one you'll be visiting next. 

Horniman Museum and Gardens, London

Located in the heart of South East London, the Horniman Museum and Gardens - set over 6 hectares of landscaped parks - houses a vast collection of objects relating to the environment, ecology and human cultures.

The beloved institution also boasts an aquarium, butterfly house, and Sunday market alongside an inspiring programme of exhibitions and events.

“We’re London’s only museum where you can see nature and culture side by side,” says Nick Merriman, Chief Executive and Content Director.

One of the reasons the Horniman was set apart in judge's eyes was the ways the museum responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate emergency and the murder of George Floyd. 

The Museum's transformational Reset Agenda focused on bringing in a more diverse audience through youth takeovers, work experience opportunities, and the 696 programme, which interrogated the responsibility of public organisations to support local music.  

Andrew Lee/Copyright Andrew Lee
Horniman Museum and Gardens 1, The Horniman Museum clocktowerAndrew Lee/Copyright Andrew Lee

"The Horniman Museum and Gardens has now blossomed into a truly holistic museum bringing together art, nature and its myriad collections," Jenny Waldman, Art Fund director and chair of the judges for Art Fund Museum of the Year, said. 

"Its values are woven through everything it now does, with a passionate team breathing life and meaning into every object, performance, plant and animal. In many ways it’s the perfect museum, and I would encourage everyone to go and experience all it has to offer," she continued. 

Museum of Making, Derby

Set in the Derwent Valley Mills - the world’s first modern factory and a UNESCO world heritage site - this recently-opened museum tells Derby’s 300 year history of innovation.

“We like to think that the museum is inspired by the makers of the past, built by the makers of today, empowering the makers of the future,” explains Tony Butler, executive director of Derby museums. 

From fascinating exhibitions on industrialisation to creative play sessions for babies, the diverse programme hopes to stimulate new creativity in the valley that changed the world.

The People’s History Museum, Manchester

The People's History Museum
The People's History Museum in Manchester encourages active citizenshipThe People's History Museum

The People’s History Museum doesn’t just document the past - it works to change the future.

The institution encourages active citizenship, telling the story of democracy in Britain through an enormous collection of political material including papers, posters, prints, badges and more.

The museum recently worked with the coalition group Together With Refugees, to campaign against the Nationality and Borders Bill, and joined 350 organisations to oppose the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill.

The Story Museum, Oxford

The Story Museum
The whispering wood at the Story Museum in OxfordThe Story Museum

The beautiful Story Museum in historic Oxford champions storytelling and reading.

Over 10 intriguing immersive galleries - from the whispering wood, to the enchanted library, and the treasure chamber - this spellbinding museum seeks to improve literacy and independent reading for local children.

With 26 per cent of children in Oxford living below the poverty line, it's an urgent mission.

Tŷ Pawb, Wrexham

Housed inside a market alongside makers and traders, Tŷ Pawb - Welsh for ‘Everyone’s House’ - celebrates Wrexham’s rich history and community spirit.

The unique setting offers a programme of exhibitions, projects and live performance amidst an indoor town square. The Lle Celf Ddefnyddiol (Useful Art Space) opened in 2021 as a hub for local creatives and workshops.