Exeter Museum Tops The Lot!
Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum's celebrating after clinching the prestigious award of Museum of the Year.
The award comes with £100,000 from the Art Fund.
The city centre museum reopened in December after a multi-million pound, four year renovation and revamp, which went over-budget and over-time.
Since then 200,000 visitors have flocked to the free-entry council museum which show-cases the history of Devon on the ground-floor and the world-wide, largely Victorian collections on the first floor. It also has an art gallery which can show important exhibitions as well as an extensive permanent collection.
Exeter City Council Leader, Pete Edwards, said: "We are absolutely over the moon at winning the Art Fund prize!
"RAMM's redevelopment has been a labour of love, and shows what can be done when popular support is backed by the local council and aided by central government and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Together we've taken a great museum, made it even better, and now with this award have really put RAMM on the map.
"This is an honour for the people of Exeter, Devon and the Southwest and I hope also a source of inspiration for all the far flung parts of Britain that like us have the ambition and drive to compete with the best. Exeter has a long and rich history which is well recorded in RAMM. It's great that today it's the museum that is making history."
RAMM pipped the three other shortlist finalists - The Hepworth Wakefield, The Scottish National Portrait Gallery and Watts Gallery, Guildford - to the award.
Lord Smith of Finsbury, who chaired the judging panel, described the attraction as "quite simply a magical place".
Explaining the decision to award RAMM the prize, Lord Smith said: "Every exhibit delights with a new surprise, and provokes with a new question.
"At a time when local authority museums in particular are in such danger, this brilliant achievement proves how daring, adventurous and important such institutions can be."
Visitors' responses have been overwhelming positive. Audience evaluation revealed that 93% of visitors thought that RAMM was friendly and welcoming: a place for the whole community, a place to learn and a great all round experience. They believed that the museum makes a vital contribution to Exeter: a contribution that they are proud of. Only 1% disagreed.