Norwich’s Sainsbury Centre in line for prestigious art prize

Henry Moore's 'Draped Reclining Woman' of 1957-8 overlooks the west end of Sir Norman Foster's iconic Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.  Photo: Bill Smith Henry Moore's 'Draped Reclining Woman' of 1957-8 overlooks the west end of Sir Norman Foster's iconic Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. Photo: Bill Smith

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
6:59 AM

People in Norfolk have long known it for the impressive array of art and culture it contains.

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Museum of the Year judges( l to r) Wim Pijbes, Sally Bacon, Anna Somerset Cocks and Stephen Deuchar visit the Sainsbury Centre which is one of six museums nationally to be shortlisted for the award
Photo by Simon Finlay.Museum of the Year judges( l to r) Wim Pijbes, Sally Bacon, Anna Somerset Cocks and Stephen Deuchar visit the Sainsbury Centre which is one of six museums nationally to be shortlisted for the award Photo by Simon Finlay.

But now the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts could be about to get even more recognition after it goes up against the likes of Tate Britain in the contest to be named museum of the year.

The Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year recognises the very best of the UK’s internationally-acclaimed museums.

Previous winners include the William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow; the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter; and the British Museum.

And this year the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, together with the likes of Tate Britain and the Mary Rose, in Portsmouth, are among the museums looking to join the esteemed names.

Guests at the launch night of Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia a major exhibition of works of art celebrating the artistic heritage of East Anglia at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. Photo: Steve AdamsGuests at the launch night of Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia a major exhibition of works of art celebrating the artistic heritage of East Anglia at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. Photo: Steve Adams

The prize is awarded annually and has a value of £100,000, The winner will be formally announced at a celebration at the National Gallery in London on Wednesday, July 9.

Paul Greenhalgh, director of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, said: “I am delighted the Sainsbury Centre has been shortlisted for the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year Award 2014. The last year has seen all of our dreams realised with new facilities and the redisplay of our permanent collection.

“This and our most ambitious exhibition, Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia, has achieved all the goals we set ourselves. It has placed the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in the public eye, not only in the region but also nationally and internationally, as well as establishing us as a museum and art gallery with temporary spaces to rival the best on offer anywhere.”

The announcement comes following a standout year for the Sainsbury Centre last year which, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the University of East Anglia, saw the opening of re-configured facilities including the largest temporary exhibition space in eastern England; a new East Gallery devoted to a complete redisplay of the permanent collection; flexible use of additional spaces devoted to modern and contemporary art; and a new shop, café and leisure area.

These new spaces were launched in September last year with the opening of the most ambitious exhibition in the Centre’s 35 year history – Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia.

Celebrating the rich culture and artistic heritage of East Anglia the exhibition received national acclaim welcoming nearly 46,000 visitors, the highest attendance figure for a temporary exhibition at the centre. The accompanying exhibition publication received the accolade of EDP-Jarrold East Anglian 2013 Book of the Year Award.

Stephen Deuchar, chairman of the judges, said: “2013 was a strong year, by any standards, for UK museums and it was no easy task to select a shortlist of six from an extraordinary body of applications.

“It is almost as if imaginative and innovative curatorship, combined with the highest standards of presentation, is no longer the exception but the rule. No wonder that the international reputation of UK museums is riding so high, and we’re delighted that the Museum of the Year will salute this through both the process of the competition and, of course, the £100,000 Prize.”

The public are also being encouraged to show their support for their favourite museum through a photography competition and the Sainsbury Centre will be holding a photography workshop for budding photographers on June 7.

What’s your favourite aspect of the Sainsbury Centre? Write to the Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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