Tate St Ives' winning revamp

Tate St Ives (above) beat four other cultural institutions to win the prize.
Tate St Ives (above) beat four other cultural institutions to win the prize.PHOTO: TATE ST IVES/INSTAGRAM

An 18-month refurbishment has led to, among other features, a beautiful extension

LONDON • The Tate St Ives art gallery has now stepped out of the shadows of its bigger siblings.

Earlier this month, it was named the Art Fund Museum of the Year in Britain, a prize catch that has eluded the grasp of the Tate Modern and Tate Britain.

The recognition comes in the wake of a revamp that had led to the closure of Tate St Ives for 18 months. It reopened last October after a massive refurbishment of its galleries plus a £20-million (S$36-million) extension that had been carved into a hillside by Jamie Fobert Architects.

News of the extra space was welcomed by visitors, given that Tate St Ives has proven to be a top draw.

According to The Guardian, visitorship has averaged 240,000 annually, with the turnout swamping the gallery spaces, shop and other facilities, including a rooftop cafe.

The Art Fund is an independent membership-based British charity that raises money to acquire artworks for the country.

The Art Fund Museum of the Year pays tribute to museums that have undertaken transformative projects, brought their collections to life for audiences in exceptional ways and delivered innovative programmes to grow visitorship.

Tate St Ives, which was named the 2018 winner at an event at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, was given £100,000.

The other finalists were Brooklands Museum in Weybridge, Ferens Art Gallery in Hull, Glasgow Women's Library and the Postal Museum in London.

Mr Stephen Deuchar, chair of the judges, said: "Tate St Ives tells the story of the artists who have lived and worked in Cornwall in an international context.

"The new extension to the gallery is deeply intelligent and breathtakingly beautiful, providing the perfect stage for a curatorial programme that is at once adventurous, inclusive and provocative.

"The judges admired an architect and gallery team who devoted some 12 years to this transformational change, consulting with the local community all the way."

Judge Melanie Manchot was equally impressed, saying: "As soon as I walked into Tate St Ives, I had an amazingly strong feeling that they're doing something innovative.

"I've visited before, but now, the whole building, the galleries, the views all feel different - they have been given a new lease of life."

Located in the Cornish fishing town that became a hot bed of Modernism in the late 1930s, the gallery, which opened in 1993, has quickly reconnected with the public since its reopening with top-drawer shows.

One exhibition featured art from 1850 to the present, inspired by the writing of celebrated author Virginia Woolf, who spent much of her childhood in St Ives.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2018, with the headline 'Tate St Ives' winning revamp'. Print Edition | Subscribe