The AAH Curatorial Prizes 2024 for Exhibitions and for Curatorial Writing and Publications were conferred during a special presentation at Cromwell Place in London on Monday evening.

The winners of the prize for Exhibitions are the curatorial team Jake Subryan Richards, Victoria Avery and Wanja Kimani for their exhibition Black Atlantic: Power, People, Resistance (8 Sep 2023 – 7 Jan 2024) at The Fitzwilliam Museum.

The winner of the AAH Curatorial Prize for Curatorial Writing and Publications, the first-ever award in this category, is curator Linsey Young for her exhibition Women in Revolt! Art and Activism in the UK 1970 -1990 (8 Nov 2023 – 7 Apr 2024) at Tate Britain.

The Exhibitions winner was selected by an eminent panel, including:

  • Iwona Blazwick, Art Historian/Curator, former Director, Whitechapel Gallery
  • John Leighton, Director General, National Galleries Scotland (outgoing)
  • Sandra Penketh, Executive Director of Galleries and Collections Management, National Museums Liverpool
  • Salma Tuqan, Director Nottingham Contemporary

The Exhibitions judging panel also highly commended Matthew Winterbottom and Charlotte Ribeyrol for Colour Revolution: Victorian Art, Fashion and Design (21 Sep 2023 – 18 Feb 2024)at the Ashmolean Museum; and Linsey Young for Women in Revolt! Art and Activism in the UK 1970 -1990 (8 Nov 2023 – 7 Apr 2024) at Tate Britain.

The Curatorial Writing and Publications winner was selected by another distinguished panel:

  • Christopher Baker, Editor, The Burlington Magazine
  • Alison Cole, Director, Arts and Creative Industries Policy Unit, The Fabian Society (formerly Editor, The Art Newspaper)
  • Melanie Pocock, Curator, Writer and Artistic Director, Exhibitions, Ikon
  • Bill Sherman, Director, The Warburg Institute

Black Atlantic at The Fitzwilliam Museum, exhibition entrance, photo by David Valinsky; Installation view, photo by Lewis Ronald, Courtesy of The Fitzwilliam Museum

The Exhibitions judging panel on Black Atlantic: Power, People, Resistance:

…found this to be a brave exhibition with a powerful and innovative approach to interpreting exhibition objects and their relation to collections across the university. They lauded this as a model for enacting structural change in the institution which could be replicated for future projects. Bringing critical friends into the planning process and presenting the exhibition in the main space for permanent collections were also well-regarded by the panel as effective ways to share the university’s collections with its communities and illustrate the importance of the histories of the exhibition objects.

They noted that the exhibition drew new audiences and first-time visitors and will have a legacy in terms of a youth collective to advise future programmes and Future/Legacies, a Black-led, co-designed online platform to present and generate new thinking in response to the idea of the Black Atlantic.

Women in Revolt! exhibition catalogue internal pages ; Courtesy of Tate Publishing

A separate panel for the Curatorial Writing and Publications prize on: Women in Revolt! Art and Activism in the UK 1970 -1990

Considered the book an enormous achievement and commended its considerable scope, ingenious design marrying form and function, and how it reflected a generous and collaborative curatorial approach.

Though a catalogue of an exhibition, it achieved its aim of serving as an accessible standalone publication, almost, as one panellist commented, and exhibition in its own right. The research mobilised the authority of the previous generation of feminist art historians and artists in an exemplary way. Linsey Young’s essay at the beginning of book “The Personal is Political” foregrounded her lived experience and discussed the exhibition in relation to her late mother. Her intention with the essay was to tell ‘a universal story of love and loss’ to situate art and creative process in the real world. The panel noted that this essay successfully anchored the whole catalogue.

In a word, the book was a ‘triumph’ and, like the exhibition, serves as an inspiration for, and starting point of, further research into the artists included in the project.

Matthew Winterbottom, Curator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Ashmolean Museum; photograph by Brian Benson

This is the third year of the AAH Curatorial Prize and is part of a broader initiative led by the Association for Art History. Gregory Perry, CEO of the AAH commented: “We created the curatorial prizes to highlight the excellent work that curators in art museums and galleries do to bring our cultural heritage to light for broad audiences. We all benefit from the research they undertake and its manifestations in exhibitions and in publications. With the awards we want to both recognise curatorial excellence and emphasis that the great experiences we have in exhibitions stars with curators engaging in art historical research.”

Projects were assessed in terms of four factors: how they demonstrated excellence in art historical research, in terms of rigour, originality or impact on the field; whether they demonstrated contemporary relevance of art and its histories; whether they communicated effectively with their intended audiences and whether they will help to broaden and make more inclusive the subject and practice of art history.

Headline images: Jake Subryan Richards, Assistant Professor of International History, London School of Economics and Political Science; Victoria Avery, Keeper, European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, The Fitzwilliam Museum; and Linsey Young, Curator of British Contemporary Art, Tate; photographs by Brian Benson.

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