Towner Eastbourne Named as a Winner of Art Fund’s Museum of the Year 2020

Posted on 12/10/2020

We are delighted to announce that Towner Eastbourne has been announced as a winner of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020, the most prestigious museum prize in the world. 

In a unique edition of the prize and in recognition of the unprecedented challenges that all museums face this year, five winning museums have been named. 

We will equally share the £200,000 award, a 40% rise over previous years with four other museums. 

The winning museums are in full: Aberdeen Art Gallery (Aberdeen, Scotland); Gairloch Museum (Gairloch, Scotland); Science Museum (London, England); South London Gallery (London, England); Towner Eastbourne (Eastbourne, Sussex, England). All were awarded based on achievements in 2019–20.

Joe Hill, Director, Towner Eastbourne, said “We are delighted to be a winner of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020. It’s been a privilege to lead Towner since 2018 and to work with my wonderful colleagues and our partners to develop Towner into the institution we are now; a community hub for art and culture at the heart of our town. In 2019, as we marked our tenth anniversary in our current building, we had a chance to celebrate and reflect on the impact that the arts can have on a place. It’s been a pleasure to see so many people engaging with our brightly coloured exterior commission, our broad exhibition and events programme and the range of outreach programmes that benefit groups across Eastbourne and Sussex. Through 2020, a year which has been notably difficult for everyone globally, we are proud to have continued to deliver a wide-ranging programme for our audiences during these unprecedented circumstances. As we look ahead, I am excited to begin planning our centenary programme for 2023, using this award to ensure we develop a moment of celebration for the people of Sussex and a programme for all ages, taking place across our town and not just inside the gallery walls. Congratulations to other winners and a heartfelt thank you to the Towner team and all our partners, supporters and visitors for contributing to making Towner Eastbourne a winning gallery.”

David Dimbleby, Chairman, Towner Eastbourne, added, 

“As Chairman of Towner Eastbourne, I am thrilled that the gallery has been named Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020. We are proud of what the gallery has achieved in recent years and the many ways in which it serves the people of Eastbourne, from young people exhibiting work with their schools, to those visiting with friends, parents and grandparents to enjoy a wide-ranging programme of events, to art fans coming to Towner from far afield to see world-class exhibitions. The prize is an accolade for our Director Joe Hill and the great team who work with him. We are celebrating our 10th anniversary in our new building, with an ambitious programme of modern and contemporary art, wide-ranging community outreach and energetic commissioning of new artworks alongside the imaginative use of our Collection. I look forward to seeing Towner scale ever greater heights as we head for our centenary year in 2023, I know that this award will help us reach a wider range of audiences and communities – which has always been and remains our overriding ambition.” 

Join us for a week of celebrations:

These include:

  • An open studio with Christine and Jennifer Binnie. The artists will be occupying the studio spaces at Towner as if it were their own studio, using it to share their daily routines and practices; to make work, plan projects, practice yoga, perform music, talk, drink tea and engage with visitors. Visitors will be invited to interact with the artists, ask questions, chat about their residency and exhibition and gain insight into their processes. 
  • The launch of a major new exhibition, Towner International. The exhibition features artists living and making locally in Sussex, Kent and Hampshire, as well as those working and exhibiting nationally and internationally. Artists include: Adam Chodzko, Ailbhe Ní Bhriain, Alexi Marshall, Arpita Shah, Ayo Akingbade, Benedict Drew, Carla Wright, Ian Land, Jack Shearing, Joe Packer, Jonathan Baldock, Julia Crabtree and William Evans, Maeve Brennan, Marianne Fahmy, Mohammed Sami, Mu-Tien Tammy Ho, Omar Vega Macotela, Paul Becker, Rita Evans, Ryan Orme, Saskia Olde Wolbers, Sherko Abbas, Stuart Middleton. Towner International hopes to address how artistic communities are recording and responding to the economic, political, cultural, and environmental changes that are unfolding across the world today. Until 10 January 2021.
  • Art, Life & Us, the first exhibition curated by artists from Towner’s Collection. Christine Binnie and Jennifer Binnie, founding members of the Neo-Naturists, have a long-standing connection with the Eastbourne area and grew up in Wannock, they spent formative years attending Eastbourne College of Art and Design which firmly established their identities as artists.They have both developed a strong connection to the rural and downland landscape which has influenced their work in performance art, pottery (Christine) and painting (Jennifer). In this exhibition, Christine and Jennifer will use their own work to complement pieces chosen from Towner’s Collection. The exhibition will guide the visitor through a journey which will reflect on and embrace our place in this changing world, exploring themes of nature, the body, meaning and the cycles of life. Until 16 May 2021.
  • Joe Hill, Director, Towner Eastbourne, will also reflect on the museum’s achievements as part of a panel discussion at 11am on Tuesday 13 October, featuring all the winners of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020 and Art Fund Director Jenny Waldman. Produced in association with The Art Newspaper and led by art critic and podcast host Ben Luke, register via