London's V&A has been named 2016's Museum of the Year; winning the UK's largest arts prize and the biggest museum prize in the world, a total of £100,000.
Though a stalwart of the capital's tourism scene, the museum's particularly shone of late thanks to its special exhibition programme; featuring the V&A's most visited ever show, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, which saw 493,043 visitors from 87 countries cross its threshold. Overall, V&A sites saw 3.9 million visitors in the past year; the highest in its 164-year history.
This year also marked the opening of the revamped permanent galleries displaying European arts and crafts from 1600-1815; a healthy show for museum culture in an uncertain political and economic climate.
The winner was announced by the Duchess of Cambridge, in a ceremony which took place across the road from the V&A, at the equally historic Natural History Museum.
"The V&A experience is an unforgettable one," stated Stephen Deuchar, who chaired the judging panel (via The Guardian). "Its recent exhibitions, from Alexander McQueen to the Fabric of India, and the opening of its new Europe 1600-1815 galleries were all exceptional accomplishments – at once entertaining and challenging, rooted in contemporary scholarship, and designed to reach and affect the lives of a large and diverse national audience. It was already one of the best-loved museums in the country: this year it has indisputably become one of the best museums in the world."
Other nominees included the Arnolfini in Bristol, Bethlem Museum of the Mind in London, Jupiter Artland in Edinburgh, and York Art Gallery; past winners have been a fair mix of larger and smaller galleries, from the British Museum in 2011 and the William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow in 2013.
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