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Art Fund Museum of the Year 2021

Client: Art Fund
Event: Art Fund Museum of the Year 2021
Date: 21 September 2021
No of guests: 250
Venue: The Science Museum


Event brief & objective:

Art Fund Museum of the Year 2021 is the flagship annual event for the national charity for art. It is an opportunity to celebrate the UK’s wonderful museums and galleries. This year was particularly special: as we navigated the pandemic, we wanted to mark the resilience and imagination of the sector and all that had been achieved against all the odds. The event marked the moment when the five finalists came together for the ceremony, along with colleagues from across the art world and beyond, for the announcement of the overall winner of the prize, the largest museum prize in the world.

Did Covid affect this event in any way?

We took the decision to scale down our event because of the pandemic. Nevertheless, we were able to accommodate 250 guests as the spaces at the Science Museum were sufficient to allow this. There was a real buzz with enough people in both The Energy Hall and the Making the Modern World gallery to make it feel exciting without being overwhelming.

How did you feel about organising an event post-pandemic? Did you implement any Covid measures? 

We knew that many guests had not seen each other for a very long time and in many ways our event felt like a reunion. There was a palpable sense of excitement about being there.

We worked with the Science Museum team to ensure that Covid measures were in place and that all staff and guests felt comfortable.

Our guests were advised that they could wear masks should they choose to. A calculation was made in the spaces to ensure social distancing was possible.

Why did you choose the Science Museum? What were you looking for in a venue when you started planning this event?

We were looking for a spectacular setting, one which showed the UK’s museums at their best.

We were also looking for a professional venue which could accommodate the numbers we were planning – around 250 – and which could accommodate the needs of the BBC team for the live broadcast.

How did you choose which space/s at the museum you wanted to use for your event, particularly as the event was being broadcast?

We needed an area where guests were welcomed, where they could enjoy a glass of wine and canapes and freely chat. But we also needed a space where the live broadcast could be made without interruption and with the right levels of sound. We worked with the Science Museum team to choose the Energy Hall and Making the Modern World gallery, which worked perfectly for our needs. Our guests were able to have a thoroughly good time, and the winner ceremony was broadcast without a hitch. It could not have gone better.

What were the benefits of using Making the Modern World for your awards ceremony? What was the standout feature of this space for you?

This is a fabulous space, filled with fascinating exhibits. For our event, it was dramatically lit to great effect and there was a sense of awe when entering it. It definitely had the wow factor.

Client testimonial:

Rachel Mapplebeck, director of communications, Art Fund: “We were thrilled that the Science Museum allowed us to use their impressive gallery spaces for a second year. They were particularly accommodating, allowing us a whole day to set up with the BBC for the live broadcast of the award ceremony, which looked so visually exciting on screen. This was especially helpful, given the complexity of the set. All staff were welcoming and did all they could to help make the event a huge success.”