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Ditchling museum up for top award
A village museum will be competing against the Tate gallery and Mary Rose Museum for a prestigious national award.
The Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft is one of just six museums across the country shortlisted for the £100,000 Art Fund museum of the year prize.
The attraction, which hosts a collection of the village’s creative heritage, will go up against the famous Tate Britain in London and the new £35 million Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth.
Judges of the competition praised the museum’s recent £2.5m redevelopment and said its new space was now a “fitting home to celebrate Ditchling’s important |place in art and applied history”.
Inside it boasts collections from artists and craftsmen with links to the village, including a 1907 carved stone tablet created by sculptor Eric Gill.
Other notable pieces include work by Edward Johnston, who designed the front for the London Underground, and Sir Frank Brangwyns, who painted the murals inside the Rockefeller centre in New York.
A “Cabinet of Curiosities” features various objects from the past including shepherds’ crooks and a hackle – a slab of spikes fixed to a wall in weaving and dyeing workshops which had fleeces drawn through it.
Hilary Williams, director of Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft, said: “We are so pleased to have been nominated and, if we are lucky enough to win, we’ve got lots of plans on how we’d like to spend the money.
“It’s amazing to be mentioned in the same breath as organisations like Tate Britain. Winning would give us and the village a massive boost.”
Other nominees include the Hayward Gallery on |London’s South Bank, the open-air Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich.
A judging panel will visit all six nominees before July 9.
Stephen Deuchar, director of Art Fund, said 2013 was a “strong year” for UK museums.
He added: “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.”
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