Horseracing & Sporting Art pipped at the post

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National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art pipped at the post in the race for Art Fund Museum of the Year

Last night, The National Heritage Centre, which had been one of five finalists in the Art Fund Museum of the Year Award, lost out to The Hepworth Wakefield at a special award dinner at the British Museum in London. Despite not winning Chris Garibaldi, Director of the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art said;

“I am so proud of the work done by so many people over such a sustained period that led to the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art here at Palace House in Newmarket being selected as a finalist for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017.

It is the biggest museum prize in the world and we congratulate our museum colleagues at The Hepworth Wakefield who are very worthy winners. We could not have been more excited to have been short-listed. Obviously we would have been bowled over to win but we already considered ourselves winners just to have been selected as finalists in such exalted company together with Tate Modern, Sir John Soane’s Museum, The Hepworth Wakefield and the Lapworth Museum of Geology. Our short listing has given a huge boost to public awareness of the new National Heritage Centre so we are very grateful to Art Fund for their support in this way.

Being a finalist was an acknowledgement of the powerful role the arts and museums can play in transforming the cultural landscape of an area – this project has been vital to the economic regeneration of Newmarket and has involved new and imaginative ways of interpreting collections for the visiting public. Giving visitors the opportunity to encounter the equine heroes of the sport is an important example of how museums can be promoted to new audiences without losing the essence of what makes them special.

On Saturday, thanks to the generosity of Sheikh Fahad, Melodic Motion, carrying the National Heritage Centre’s special colours celebrating our shortlisting as an Art Fund Museum of the Year finalist, romped home to a very comfortable victory in the Betway Fillies’Handicap Stakes – so perhaps it was too much to think that we might pull of the ‘double’ with the Museum of the Year prize as well.”

The National Heritage Centre was one of five finalists that included Tate Modern, The Hepworth Wakefield, Sir John Soane’s Museum in London and the Lapworth Museum of Geology in Birmingham. Art Fund Museum of the Year is the world’s largest and most prestigious prize for museums, and worth £100,000.

Opened by Her Majesty the Queen in November 2016, the National Heritage Centre was part of a large scale redevelopment project in the heart of Newmarket that transformed a derelict stable yard, trainer’s house and the old palace that was built for Charles II. It now houses a state of the art museum, a gallery of world class sporting art and real racehorses – a unique visitor experience. Since opening the doors in 2016 over 17,000 people have visited the site, significantly exceeding the annual footfall of the original National Horseracing Museum.

Stuart Richmond-Watson, Chairman at the National Heritage Centre said:

“Just to have been selected as a finalist so soon after our opening is an incredible achievement by the whole staff at the National Heritage Centre. It was wonderful to be shortlisted and underlined the importance of restoring a nationally significant heritage site in the heart of the historic home of horseracing. Obviously it would have been fantastic to win but we are so happy that the Art Fund has recognised the unique cultural position we occupy across the arts, sciences and sport.”

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