Page last updated at 18:39 GMT, Thursday, 22 May 2008 19:39 UK

Lightbox wins 100,000 art prize

The Lightbox at night
Judges were impressed by the design of The Lightbox

A major arts prize has been won by a museum and art gallery which opened after a 14-year campaign.

The 7m Lightbox, in Woking, Surrey which opened last year, has been awarded the 100,000 Art Fund Prize.

It was initiated in 1993 by a group of 70 people who began campaigning to open a museum and art gallery in the town.

Three others shortlisted were London's Wellcome Collection, the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol and Shetland Museum and Archives.

The winner was announced on Thursday at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London.

The Art Fund, the UK's leading art charity, awards the prize for originality, imagination and excellence and to increase public appreciation of museums and galleries.

Public art

The charity said The Lightbox was an "ingenious jewel" which was a genuine example of grassroots action.

More than 10,000 members of the public donated money and treasured family possessions for a permanent display entitled Woking's History, or made a handprint for a public art project.

The Lightbox opened in September with an exhibition showing unseen material from Wallace and Gromit creator Aardman Animation.

The Art Fund said the museum, designed by London Eye architects Marks Barfield, had two of the most exciting gallery spaces in South East England.

As well as Woking's Story, the building houses an ambitious programme of exhibitions, which change monthly.

The Lightbox staff celebrate
Director Marilyn Scott (centre) celebrates the win with staff

They include contemporary art by local and national artists and loans from major museums and galleries.

"It was a difficult final choice for the judges, but in the end we went for something novel, brave and full of delights," said broadcaster Sue MacGregor, chair of the judges.

"Woking may sound a slightly unlikely place for a brand new museum, but we were instantly impressed by The Lightbox - by the fine design of the building itself, by its international and local collections, and by the general air of enthusiasm and professional attention to detail shown by the staff and its many volunteers."

The Lightbox director Marilyn Scott said winning was beyond its wildest dreams.

"We are such a new gallery and museum but it is incredible how much of an impact The Lightbox has had on the local community and the wider South East in such a short time," she said.

It is considering using the prize for an art commission and a semi-permanent structure for its canal-side courtyard and extending the exhibition space.

Last year's winner of the prize, formerly The Gulbenkian Prize, was Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, West Sussex.

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18 Apr 08 |  North East/N Isles
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15 Sep 07 |  Surrey

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