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14 May 2020

Birmingham's Pre-Raphaelite exhibition wins global award

Birmingham Museums Trust’s largest ever touring exhibition, Victorian Radicals, which has been showcasing some of the finest Pre-Raphaelite works in the city’s collection to audiences across the US, has been recognised at the Global Fine Art Awards 2019 this week.

The exhibition, created in partnership with the American Federation of Arts (AFA), has been named the Best Modern or Impressionism (1840 to WWll) exhibition worldwide and was selected by a panel of expert judges from 99 nominees across 14 categories, representing works in 6 continents, 27 countries and 74 cities.

Victorian Radicals focuses on three generations of progressive artists and designers whose response to the increasingly industrial world around them revolutionised the arts, from the ground-breaking work of the Pre-Raphaelites to the inspiring designs of the Arts and Crafts movement. The exhibition is selected from Birmingham’s outstanding holdings of Victorian and Edwardian fine and decorative art, and includes paintings, watercolours and drawings, ceramics, metalwork, textiles and stained glass.

Approximately 145 works have featured at each venue by artists and designers such as Ford Madox Brown, Kate Bunce, Edward Burne-Jones, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, May Morris, William Morris, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Elizabeth Siddall. 

Over 135,000 have seen the US exhibitions so far. The award win follows the temporary closure of the fifth leg of the tour at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut, due to the US coronavirus lockdown. The exhibition will be extended there until September and will then tour to The Frick Pittsburgh, the Nevada Museum of Art, and the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico. 

Following the success of the tour, the works will return home for a major showing at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in 2022.

Toby Watley, Director of Collections at Birmingham Museums Trust, said: “We’re extremely proud of the success of our largest ever touring exhibition, which has brought Birmingham’s outstanding collection and its pioneering artistic figures to a whole new audience in the US. 

“To win this award is a fantastic achievement and is testament to the hard work of the exhibition team, including Fine Art curator for BMT Victoria Osborne, the co-curators Martin Ellis and Professor Tim Barringer, and the many teams across Birmingham Museums Trust who have worked with the AFA to bring this tour to life. 

“We are thrilled to be able to announce that the acclaimed exhibition, and these well-loved works, will return to Birmingham in 2022 so our audiences can experience the display that has been enjoyed by US fans back at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in a major homecoming show.”
Cllr Jayne Francis, cabinet member for education, skills and culture, said: “This is a fantastic achievement – it is one of just 13 exhibitions worldwide to receive an award in competition with exhibitions across 6 continents, 27 countries and 74 cities. It’s wonderful to see Birmingham’s treasures being shown and appreciated in the US and is a testament to the creativity of this city.”

Birmingham Museums Trust holds the most important Pre-Raphaelite art collection in the world and cares for it on behalf of Birmingham City Council. Find out more about the collection here: www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/bmag/highlights/the-pre-raphaelites.

More information about the Global Fine Art Awards can be found here: globalfineartawards.org.

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