Museum of the Year Awarded to Essex Art Gallery Transformed to Help Community During COVID-19 Pandemic | Ents & Arts News


A gallery in Essex that transformed to help distribute food to vulnerable people and handed out free school meals was awarded the title of Museum of the Year.

Colchester’s Firstsite Art Gallery won the award at a ceremony in London, crowning the venue’s tenth anniversary.

The modern arts organization showcases a mix of historic and contemporary art from around the world and emphasizes building relationships with artists and the local community.

Sally Shaw (L), Director of Firstsite with Nadine Dorries, Secretary of Culture at the awards ceremony

Neighboring charity Community 360 used the building during the pandemic and reused it as a base from which to deliver food and supplies to vulnerable people in the area.

And, with the African Families association, the gallery transformed its restaurant into a school canteen and offered free school meals during the holidays.

He also ran the Great Big Art Exhibition during the lockdown, which encouraged people to display art in their windows, and produced activity packs featuring over 50 artists that were uploaded by over 92,000 families.

If all that wasn’t enough, he also worked on an NHS art project, Art for Life, which he hopes will help others understand the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and refugees.

The gallery beat competition from four other venues – Center for Contemporary Art Derry / Londonderry, Experience Barnsley, Thackray Museum of Medicine in Leeds and Timespan in Helmsdale, Sutherland – to win the award.

Presenting the £ 100,000 prize to the Science Museum in London, Prize Jury Chair Jenny Waldman said: “We are proud to announce Firstsite in Colchester as the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2021.

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“Whether it’s inspiring everyone to turn their windows into a national gallery during lockdown or feeding local children during school vacations, they are an outstanding example of innovation and integrity.

“At their heart is powerful and engaged contemporary art, housed in a gallery that makes room for everyone from artists and NHS staff to local families and refugee groups.

“They exceeded all of our expectations.

“Here is a small organization that thinks big and cares for its local community. Here is excellence in Essex.”


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