The Walker Art Gallery enjoyed success last night (18 June 2009) as it scooped two awards at the annual Mersey Partnership (TMP) Tourism Awards held at the BT Convention Centre in Liverpool.
Displaying the most important collection of fine art in the North of England, the Walker is a favourite among visitors to the city and locals alike. In 2008, 396,356 people visited the gallery, with many coming to see the special exhibition Art in the Age of Steam, which clearly won the hearts of the public and the award judges at last night’s ceremony.
Beating an array of other successful events and attractions, the exhibition won awards for Tourism Experience of the Year and a new addition to the awards for 2009; the Tourism Marketing Project of the Year .
Hosted by BBC television presenter Ranvir Singh, 500 guests attended the ceremony and representatives from National Museums Liverpool included Phil Redmond, chair of the organisation.
Phil said: “I’m both delighted and proud that the Walker Art Gallery has received these two fantastic awards. Art in the Age of Steam was a major contribution to the Capital of Culture offering, and the Tourism Experience of the Year award is recognition of the vital role the gallery played in encouraging people from far and wide to visit Liverpool in 2008, as it has for the last 150 years, and indeed as it will in future years.
“Both awards are testament to the hard work that went on behind the scenes at National Museums Liverpool to stage such an ambitious exhibition, which showcased works from the world’s great art collections. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank NML staff for their hard work in Capital of Culture year and their efforts in maintaining the Walker Art Gallery as one of the city’s most popular visitor attractions.”
Opened by self-confessed train spotter and ‘anorak’ Michael Palin, Art in the Age of Steam attracted 113,476 visitors to the Walker during its run from 18 April to 10 August 2008, surpassing the original 75,000 visitor target set by 51%.
The exhibition was the most ambitious fine art exhibition ever staged at the Walker, and supported by an imaginative adult and family-focused events programme, became critically acclaimed in press on a local, national and international level.