Little Narberth Museum nominated for big arts prize
Located in Pembrokshire, Narberth Museum was forced to close in 2003 after the sale of its home. Thanks to the work of perseverant volunteers who raised funds during eight years, the little museum reopened last summer. Surprisingly, the little museum, which celebrates the history of the Welsh Market town, is one of the 10 finalists for the £100,000 Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year, UK's richest arts award.
“It is phenomenal, I can't believe it,” said Narbeth's curator Pauline Griffiths to The Guardian. “We were absolutely delighted an not a little amazed when we heard the news. We are a small community museum, there are lots of us all over the country and maybe we're there representing them. It is such a nice stamp of approval for us.”
In reference to the 9-year campaign to reopen the museum, Griffiths said: “We had amassed quite a nice collection and we didn't want it to be dispersed or destroyed so we decided to come back in some shape or form,” Griffiths said. “It took us nine years, a lot longer than expected.”
It took them a long time, but campaigners finally managed to convince the Welsh government and the Heritage Lottery Fund to give money to reopen the museum. Subsequently, Narberth Museum was reopened in a building called The Bonded Stores, which was used for a century by the firm of James Williams Ltd to store booze duty free until it was sold on. “I suppose you could say the cloud had a silver lining but it took a long time to show,” said Griffiths.
With four part-time staff and 30 volunteers, the museum reopened with no regular funding and it relines on the income it generates. “We are a very different animal to the big beasts on the list,” said Griffiths. Therefore, winning the prize could really translate into a turning point for the little museum's finances.
The winner will be announced at a ceremony which will take place at the V&A in London on June 4th. Stephen Deuchar, The Art Fund's director said: “The quality and diversity of the UK's museum galleries is truly exceptional and the job of this prize is to draw attention to that.”
He added: “As the national charity for art, we hope that, by shining a light on the 10 finalists, we'll encourage people to visit and celebrate these bright beacons of culture across the UK.”
The prize rewards the very best curatorial and programming in British museums. Las year, the prize was won by the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter.