The museum, designed by architect Hulme Upright Manning, saw off three other shortlisted museums, galleries or exhibitions to win the prize: The Centre of New Enlightenment exhibition at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, Orleans House Gallery in Richmond, and the Ruthin Craft Centre in north Wales.
The £10m museum is housed in the historic manufacturing site of Josiah Wedgwood and Sons. The Wedgwood company, along with Waterford Crystal and Royal Doulton, is now operated by WWRD Holdings.
The museum also came out top in the first ever people’s choice poll for the prize.
David Puttnam, chairman of the judges, says, ‘The Wedgwood Museum brilliantly highlights the marriage of art, design, manufacturing and commerce, a marriage that resonates more today than at possibly any time in the intervening years. In every respect it fully meets our criteria of what a 21st-century museum should aspire to be.’
Andrew Macdonald, acting director of the Art Fund, says, ‘The Wedgwood Museum magnificently celebrates the extraordinary achievement of Britain’s industrial history.
‘It is a richly deserving winner of this prize, and its victory could not have come at a better time for the area, after all the uncertainty there has been over the future of the factory which still operates alongside the museum.’