South London Gallery has been announced as an Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020 winner, the most prestigious museum prize in the world
Lead image: SLG © Andy Stagg
SLG – founded in the 19th century by philanthropist William Rossiter to ‘bring art to the people of south London’ – is one of five winning museums that will equally share the £200,000 award (a 40% rise over previous years to help museums tackle the unprecedented challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic).
Sharing the prize with SLG – which now has two sites; the original gallery at 65 Peckham Road and the new Fire Station, located across the road, which opened in 2018 – is the Science Museum in South Kensington, Aberdeen Art Gallery, Gairloch Museum in Scotland and Towner Eastbourne.
‘To be joint Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020 is a fantastic endorsement of our work and one which we hope will entice people from across the UK and beyond to visit the SLG,’ said Margot Heller, South London Gallery Director.
‘We have a great reputation among those that know the gallery, but there is huge potential for that to grow.
‘There are plenty of reasons to visit, from Bloomberg New Contemporaries in December to solo shows by the American painter Christina Quarles and London-based Rita Keegan in spring 2021, and a celebration to mark the fifth anniversary of our beautiful garden designed by Gabriel Orozco in September of next year.
‘The prize money will mean we can continue to develop this work with our immediate neighbours’
‘The financial insecurity brought about by the Coronavirus lockdown has been hugely challenging for SLG, particularly when coupled with the need to find new, socially distanced ways to connect with local schools, children and families.
‘The awarded prize money will mean we can continue to develop this work with our immediate neighbours, and also launch an exciting new artist commission, building on the Art Fund’s past support of major artworks at the SLG.’
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The launch of the SLG’s new space in a converted former Victorian fire station kicked off one of the most transformative years in the SLG’s history.
The annexe doubled the organisation’s footprint, creating new opportunities to engage audiences in new ways with projects like SLG Hosts, a new series of projects and displays by independent groups without exhibition spaces; The Flavour Cravers, which invited guest chefs to teach children new cooking skills; SLG Skills, a programme of creative classes and workshops; and weekly weekend drop-in activities for families.
The gallery’s commitment to community engagement was one of the things that impressed the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020 judging panel: ‘The five Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020 winners are exceptional examples of museums offering inspiration, reflection and joy in the heart of communities,’ said Jenny Waldman, Director of Art Fund.
‘The Source of Art is in the Life of a People: A Poem’ is a film inspired by the SLG and specially commissioned for our Art Fund Museum of the Year week of digital celebration
‘The UK’s museums – admired worldwide and vital locally – were thriving before Covid-19, ‘ she continues. ‘Now they can help rebuild our communities and confidence as we emerge from the virus. We’re delighted the prize money will enable SLG to continue its important work with the local community.’
The SLG’s current exhibition, Ann Veronica Janssens: Hot Pink Turquoise, runs until 29 November.
The first major presentation of Belgian artist Ann Veronica Janssens’ work in London, the exhibition spans the SLG’s Main Gallery and three floors of the Fire Station, with works ranging from an expanse of glitter through to a coloured light installation exploring ideas around perception.
South London Gallery, 65-67 Peckham Road, Camberwell SE5 8UH
Fire Station, 82 Peckham Road SE15 5LQ