Firstsite named art museum of the year


Firstsite named art museum of the year

Essex Museum of Art shows the value of helping others and instilling hope

Grace O’Connor ’22

Last week Essex’s art museum, Firstsite, was named the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year. He received this recognition not only because of his extravagant works of art, but also because of his generosity towards his local community; Indeed, Firstsite makes building relationships between artists and members of the Essex community a priority.

This was more evident than ever during the pandemic, especially when the museum used its resources to help those in need. For example, she offered her space as a base to supply local neighborhoods with food and turned her restaurant into a school canteen, providing free school meals to students during the holidays. Firstsite also brought hope and creativity to children and their families during the pandemic with The Great Big Art Exhibition, which encouraged members of the local community to create their own works of art to hang in museum windows.

Firstsite has undergone drastic changes over the past two years, but only really solidified its place in the art museum world during the pandemic, when it first gained fame for its philanthropic efforts. As The Guardian explains, in 2015 Firstsite was “in crisis mode after Arts Council England removed it from the national portfolio, instead offering an annual funding deal.” This change placed Firstite at great risk of losing substantial funds.

Despite this setback, Firstsite returned to the national portfolio in 2018 under new management. Museum director Sally Shaw played a pivotal role in this turnaround. Shaw has devoted his time and expertise to showcasing the unique attributes and purpose of the museum. Upon hearing that Firstsite would be returning to the national portfolio, she remarked how “incredibly proud she was to be the director” of the museum. “We do two things at Firstsite, we work with amazing artists and simultaneously we work with amazing communities,” added Shaw.

As The Art Newspaper details, a prize of £ 100,000, the largest possible prize, has been awarded to the museum because “at the base is powerful and engaged contemporary art, housed in a gallery that gives space to everyone from artists to NHS staff to locals. families and groups of refugees. The newspaper also quotes Jenny Waldman, sharing that “the director of the Art Fund and chairman of the jury” said the honor was paid to the museum for being an “outstanding example of innovation and integrity”. Clearly, Firstsite went above and beyond to help others, proving that it is much more than an art museum.

Indeed, Firstsite truly exemplifies the purpose of art: to bring people together. Unlike many other museums, it favors establishing links between its community and its artists. The size of Firstsite also contributes to the creation of this close-knit community. Indeed, at the very heart of this museum is the objective of serving the local community and instilling hope among its inhabitants. Firstsite not only demonstrates the power of art, but also the importance of helping others, which is often overlooked in the madness of today’s world. The impact of their contributions proves that no small action goes unnoticed.


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