Museums United Kingdom

William Morris Gallery wins top UK prize

Art Fund's £100,000 award goes to museum celebrating arts and crafts hero

William Morris

The William Morris Gallery in east London became the UK museum of the year when it received the prestigious Art Fund Prize, worth £100,000, last night (4 June). The small museum in the suburb of Walthamstow, which reopened last year after a £5m modernisation project, celebrates the life and work of the 19th century artist-craftsman and left-wing campaigner who combined an idiosyncratic form of socialism with business savvy. Morris and Co arts and crafts furniture, fabrics and wall paper raised middle-class taste in Victorian England. Britain's representative at this year's Venice Biennale, Jeremy Deller, is one of Morris's many admirers. Deller contributed his thoughts on Morris's ideas, including his back-to-the-land vision of a post-industrial society, in a video on show in the gallery, while for the British pavilion in Venice he has installed murals, one of which depicts Morris as a colossus throwing a supersized yacht owned by the billionaire collector Roman Abramovich into the lagoon. Another British artist will be delighted. Grayson Perry, who has a studio in Walthamstow, displayed a tapestry inspired by the unfashionable suburb's contemporary charms when the museum reopened last July. Runners up included the Dulwich Picture Gallery, south London, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, and the Hepworth Wakefield, which won the £10,000 Clore Award for Learning.

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