The Design Museum in London has won the prestigious European Museum of the Year Award (EMYA), the sixth British winner in the award’s 41-year history.
Announced recently at a ceremony in Warsaw, Poland, the Design Museum was among 40 finalists that included the Science Museum in London, National Gallery of Ireland, and Helsinki City Museum.
EMYA was founded in 1977 by Kenneth Hudson and Richard Hoggart under the auspices of the Council of Europe. Its objective is to recognise excellence and innovation in the European museum sector.
An international judging panel visits up to 50 museums a year to select those that showcase best practices in innovation and accessibility. With this win, the Design Museum joins the ranks of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
“This inspiring, socially-aware museum includes the visitor in a friendly dialogue and taps into the creative history of design, which it celebrates and documents with ingenuity, historical accuracy and humour,” commented the European Museum of the Year panel in a press statement.
“It serves as a platform for the promotion of good design worldwide and sets up an important democratic and multi-layered intercultural dialogue, with a significant social impact in the community.”
“Being named European Museum of the Year 2018 is a remarkable achievement for the Design Museum, its staff, trustees and supporters. The museum shows the power of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in design,” said Alice Black, co-director of the museum, in the same statement.
“ To be recognised by its European peers as the best museum in 2018 is a wonderful accolade and celebrates our common European future.”
The win comes after a series of major milestones achieved by the museum. Earlier this year, it welcomed its one millionth visitor to its new home in Kensington. A recent exhibition, Ferrari: Under The Skin, became the most attended exhibition in the museum’s history with over 100,000 visitors.
On May 10, Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier opened to the public, an exhibition curated in collaboration with the late designer.
“This award is also a tribute to the thousands of members and hundreds of volunteers who support the work of the Design Museum,” said Lord Peter Mandelson, chairman of the Design Museum Trustees.
“The museum receives less than 2% of its funding from government programmes and it is therefore the dedicated support of patrons, sponsors and foundations that has created this vital and important resource of design knowledge and inspiration for local, national and international visitors.”
Founded by Sir Terence Conran, the Design Museum opened in 1989 in a former banana ripening warehouse on Shad Thames, southeast London before moving to Kensington High Street in 2016.
Since relocating, the Design Museum has won a number of accolades including a RIBA London Award, AJ Retrofit Award, a commendation in the NLA Awards, the Structural Transformation award by the Institute of Structural Engineers, and was awarded the Best New Museum and Leading Cultural Destination of 2017 as part of the global LCD Awards.