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National Waterfront Museum Helps Revive City

The National Waterfront Museum, Swansea is breathing new life into the city – and that's official.

It has scooped a top Regeneration Award for the best design-led regeneration project in the UK. And later this week the Museum will officially be handed an award from the Royal Institute for British Architects (RIBA) for its architecture and design.

It is a major coup for the £33 million attraction – part of the Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales family – which has attracted more than 280,000 visitors since it opened just over a year ago.

The Museum, designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects, beat off competition from across Britain to pick up the title. According to the judges, "the embodiment of Swansea's past and future in Wilkinson Eyre's design of the National Waterfront Museum establishes the building as a new Welsh landmark".

The quality of the museum building and the latest technology used to explain the collections have already won a number of awards from various bodies including a Civic Trust Award, an award from the Association of Heritage Interpretation and a commendation in the Structural Steel Design Awards. It was also shortlisted for a Design Week Award for its innovative exhibition design.

On Thursday 7 Dec it will be presented with a RIBA Award from Jonathan Adams, President of the RSAW (Royal Society for Architects in Wales). RIBA awards are given for buildings that have high architectural standards and make a substantial contribution to the local environment.

Mr Adams paid tribute to Wilkinson Eyre and said: “They looked carefully at the resources and the characteristics of our local environment for their ideas. They were inventive spatially, and particularly in their use of materials.

“It was a project that had a long gestation, which encountered and overcame obstacles and challenges by being ambitious enough and distinctive enough to capture the public's imagination.”

Paul Loveluck, President of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, said he was delighted that the skill of Wilkinson Eyre in designing the Museum was getting the recognition it deserves.

“It successfully blends a building redolent of the heyday of the industrial revolution in Wales with the new. The result is a building which enables the story of Wales's unique history as the first industrial nation to be told in an exciting and dynamic way. It is also a vital part of the City and County of Swansea's ongoing programme to develop its Waterfront for the 21st century," he added.

Leader of City and County of Swansea, Cllr Chris Holley, said the awards were good news for the area. “The National Waterfront Museum is a huge success story for Swansea. It is a terrific landmark building that deserves all the plaudits it has been gaining over the past year.

“It adds to cultural and economic vitality of our city. I'm sure the many tens of thousands of visitors it has attracted since opening would agree that it's well worth visiting time and again.”

Visitors can explore the exciting human stories about innovation and industry in Wales over the last 300 years through a series of 15 themed exhibition areas.

There are 100 audio visual exhibits including 36 state of the art interactive displays, as well as a series of large objects from Wales's industrial past.

Notes to Editor:

The presentation of the award will take place at the National Waterfront Museum, Thursday, December 7 at 12.30 pm.

The £33.5m development was awarded an £11 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund – the largest grant ever awarded in Wales. It is a partnership between Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales and the City and County of Swansea. It was designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects incorporating a Grade II listed warehouse, linked to a spectacular brand new glass and slate building. The Museum is situated in Swansea's new Maritime Quarter and forms part of the regeneration of the area. The remainder of the funding came from the Welsh Assembly Government, EU Objective One funding and other private donors and sponsors.

Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales operates six other national museums across Wales. These are National Museum Cardiff, St Fagans: National History Museum, National Roman Legion Museum, Caerleon, Big Pit: National Coal Museum, Blaenafon, National Wool Museum, Dre-fach Felindre and the National Slate Museum, Llanberis.

Entry to all Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales sites is free, thanks to the support of the Welsh Assembly Government.

Date: 14 December 2006
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