Colchester gallery Firstsite is the Museum of the Year


Firstsite Colchester was named the winner of the Art Foundation Museum of the Year 2021 competition, receiving an award and prize of £ 100,000. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Firstsite is a contemporary art organization that is a fusion of international historical, contemporary, and contemporary art.

Colchester Gallery was announced as the winner last night at the Art Foundation’s Museum of the Year 2021 Awards, which took place at the Science Museum in London and was broadcast live on the BBC.

This year’s jury consisted of TV presenter Edith Bowman, who that she had a real pleasure in visiting each of the five finalists. She added that she was at a loss for words about what they did with tiny teams and budgets. Edith Bowman also commented that what Firstsite has achieved is amazing.

Jenny Waldman, Director of the Arts Foundation and Chair of the Art Foundation’s Museum of the Year Jury, added that Firstsite is a standout example of innovation and honesty. They inspired everyone to turn their windows into a nationwide gallery during isolation.

During the pandemic, the Colchester gallery lent its building to the nearby charity Community 360 to run a food bank and created event packages that were attended by over 50 artists and downloaded by over 92,000 families.

The organization also spearheaded the Great Great Art Exhibition, which encouraged people to exhibit their own art in their windows during isolation in order to create a nationwide gallery.

Waldman continued: “They exceeded all our expectations. It is a small organization that thinks big and cares about its local community. “
Last year, in response to Black Lives Matter, the art gallery Firstsite commissioned Elsa James to do a downloadable work of solidarity and continued with the Super Black Festival of Essex Black Culture.

Other significant initiatives include My Name is Not a Refugee, an art council curated by Refugee Action Colchester clients, and Art For Life, an exhibition commissioned by the NHS with key staff to help understand the mental health impact of Covid-19.
This year’s shortlisted awards include:
• the Northern Ireland Contemporary Art Center;
• Experience Barnsley;
• Tecray Museum of Medicine in Leeds;
• Timespan in the Scottish Highlands.

Each of the other finalist museums will get a £ 15,000 prize in recognition of their achievements. Last year, the Arts Foundation recognized the challenges facing museums and galleries by increasing the prize pool to £ 200,000 and dividing the award equally between Aberdeen Art Gallery, Garloch Museum, Science Museum, South London Gallery, and Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne.
The Art Fund is a national arts charity that donates millions of pounds every year to help museums acquire and distribute works of art throughout the UK.

Firstsite is Colchester and the East of England’s contemporary visual arts gallery. Housed in a spectacular golden building designed by Rafael Vinoly Architects, Firstsite is both a gallery and community hub – showcasing a wide variety of impressive artworks from internationally recognized artists to more locally relevant exhibitions. It has an in-house cinema, cafe, and shop as well as a meeting room and other spaces for hire. In the heart of the building, a Roman Mosaic is permanently installed under glass panels.

An international art gallery and creative community space, Firstsite is open all year round, for free, for everyone. See the world differently – experience the very best art and culture from around the world that inspires, empowers, and opens your mind.

Throughout its exceptional artistic and cultural activities, enjoyed by all in a fun and inclusive environment, from exhibitions to community events, talks and lectures to holiday fun activities, the art gallery provides a program that celebrates the diverse and radical people of East Anglia and invites everyone to be part of our creative community.


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