RIBA National Awards for the Galleries

Thursday, 27th June 2019

Effigies of monarchs on display in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries, Westminster Abbey

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries and the Weston Tower have both been named winners at the RIBA National Awards 2019.

The awards, which have been presented since 1966, are given by the Royal Institute of British Architects to projects recognised as making a significant contribution to architecture.

MUMA (McInnes Usher McKnight Architects) were awarded a prize for their work on the Galleries exhibition design. The judges commented that the Galleries had:

been designed with subtlety and skill, to create an exhibition space that puts the most important artefact - the abbey itself - centre stage … there is a real sense of craftsmanship with a contemporary aesthetic.

The Galleries, which opened in June 2018, offer breath-taking views of the Abbey and display 300 treasures from its collection, including England’s oldest surviving altar piece, and the royal marriage licence of HRH Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton.

The Weston Tower was designed by the Abbey's Surveyor of the Fabric, Ptolemy Dean, and was the first major addition to the church since 1745. It houses a staircase and lift which take visitors to the Galleries, which are set more than 16 metres (52 feet) above the Abbey floor in the medieval Triforium, an area never previously open to the public.

The tower was described by the judges as:

packed with ideas that spin-off the magnificence of the surrounding architecture, with every challenge bringing opportunity to re-imagine an aspect of the commission.

The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, said;

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries and Weston Tower are an enormous achievement. We are absolutely delighted with these awards and very pleased to see national recognition for the superb quality of the project. Visitors to the Abbey will enjoy amazing views from the Galleries, as well as the artefacts within.

The Galleries are open to visitors, Monday to Saturday.