Thursday, April 04, 2013

10 Finalists for £100k Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2013

Continuing the theme of museums - we now have the names of the ten museums and art galleries selected as finalists in the £100,000 Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2013 plus an invite to contribute a photograph for the Museum of the Year Photography Competition
Each year we celebrate the very best UK museums and galleries, rewarding and highlighting their innovation and creativity in bringing objects and collections to life.The Art Fund - About Museum of the Year
The Hepworth Wakefield.
Photo © Iwan Baan
Courtesy of the Hepworth Media Centre
The backdrop to the prize is:
  • the recognised importance of museums to the UK economy - particularly in relation to local and international tourism; 
  • the imperative to be non-London oriented in terms of arts funding with museums opening in areas in need of regeneration; 
  • continuing cuts in funding for the arts in general and 
  • the move of some responsibilities for museums to the Arts Council on 1 October 2012.  
That's a lot of competing agendas to reconcile!

The 2013 Finalists

Ten museums and galleries have been chosen by the judges to compete for the £100,000 Prize.

A review of past winners suggests that this is maybe a prize which tends to go to the museum which has reinvented itself in terms of major refurbishment, innovation or new ways of presenting collections and/or engaging with its visitors.  I'm guessing success at increasing visitor numbers and improvements in financial viability are possible criteria as well.

I'm guessing because the one thing the Art Fund website doesn't tell us is what are the criteria for the award of the Prize!  

So how does a museum know whether or not its in with a chance?

It was interesting going through the finalists to see which museums and galleries had a very clear and specific purpose - which is spelt out clearly to the public - as opposed to "things they do".  Similarly it was interesting to see which museums boasted about their visitor numbers and which buried them in documents which needed to be downloaded!  (I spent too long in a past life assessing grant applications - old habits die hard!)

For what it's worth my shortlist for the prize would include the Hepworth Wakefield, the Dulwich Picture Gallery and the William Morris Gallery - but then they're all lively and engaging museums that I've followed over the course of 2012.  That's partly because of the way they're engaging with the digital community. 

Below is a summary of the finalists with some details for those who may not know all of them:
  • a link to the page on the Art Fund website which summarises why they are a finalist
  • an abbreviated summary of purpose and achievement
  • details of location 
  • details of their website (and blog and Facebook page, Twitter, Youtube etc)
Location: Gateshead Quays, South Shore Road, Gateshead Tyne and Wear NE8 3BA ; 
Venue: a landmark industrial building on the south bank of the River Tyne in Gateshead
Purpose: a major international centre for contemporary art
In 2012 it opened BALTIC 39, a vibrant cultural hub which is home to an exciting partnership between BALTIC and Northumbria University, studios for practising artists, a new experimental project space programmed by BALTIC and a series of events and festivals programmed and developed by its residents.
Location: 18 High Street, Canterbury Kent CT1 2RA
Venue: A Victorian building recently subject to a £14 million transformation project to bring an Art Museum, Library and Visitor Information Centre under one roof 
Purpose:  an Art Museum and Library situated in the heart of the historic city of Canterbury
Visitors: 300,000 visitors since the reopening

Dulwich Picture Gallery
Works by Phillip Haas and Andy Warhol on display alongside the Permanent Collection
photo: Katherine Tyrrell - all rights reserved
Location: Gallery Road, London London SE21 7AD (with free parking in the road outside!)
Venue: The first purpose-built public art gallery in Britain opened to the public in 1814. 
Purpose: Exhibition of its permanent collection plus active outreach programme plus an exhibition programme of "niche" exhibitions which specialise in 'firsts': eg the first exhibitions in this country on Gerrit Dou, Norman Rockwell, Saul Steinberg, Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven
Visitors: In 2011-2012 the Gallery enjoyed its second-highest visitor figures ever (149, 000 visitors)

Location: Gallery Walk, Wakefield West Yorkshire WF1 5AW
Venue: David Chipperfield's £35 million building - providing ten grey trapezoidal boxes, each housing a gallery space, set right next to the River Calder - which gives it a very impressive appearance (see photo at top). 
Purpose: One of the UK’s largest purpose-built galleries for public art outside London.  Unites work from the city’s art collection with exhibitions by contemporary artists and rarely seen works by the renowned sculptor Barbara Hepworth in the city where she was born and grew up
Visitors: Over 385,000 visitors in 2012 (more than 900,000 visitors since the gallery opened in May 2011)

Location: 100 London Road, Forest Hill London SE23 3PQ (it's not far from Dulwich Picture Gallery)
Venue: three-year unification project completed in 2012 - to unify collections and gardens
Purpose: A somewhat odd mixture of internationally important collections of anthropology and musical instruments plus an acclaimed aquarium and natural history gallery PLUS 16 acres of landscaped gardens offering dramatic views of London
Visitors: not available

Location: Argyle Street, Glasgow Strathclyde G3 8AG
Venue: £35 million refurbishment in 2006, one of the top 100 Art Museums in the world
Purpose: home to internationally renowned collections and exhibitions
Visitors: 10 million visitors, exploring 22 themed galleries, since it reopened in 2006
Location: Downing Street, Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB2 3DZ
Venue: two-year redevelopment was completed in 2012. Recently reopened with a new street entrance and refurbished ground floor galleries which make the collections more accessible to the public
Purpose: One of one of eight accredited University of Cambridge Museums and Collections. World-class University collections of art, ethnographic artefacts and archaeological discoveries. The latter span nearly two million years of human history, on all six inhabited continents. Plus  new display dedicated to the archaeology and history of Cambridge and its region.
Visitors: 24,596 between 25 May until end September 2012 (reduced to museum closure)

Location: Bonded Stores, Church Street, Narberth Pembrokeshire SA67 7BH
Venue: Museum located in a recently renovated industrial warehouse (a former bonded stores originally built to house wine and spirit).
Purpose: The collection celebrates the trades, crafts, organisations, people and buildings of the Welsh market town of Narberth.  The museum is a contemporary cultural hub for the local area where people can engage with their pasts. It is run mainly by an enthusiastic and dedicated team of volunteers.
Visitors: not available

Location: Yarm Road, Eaglescliffe, Stockton-on-Tees Cleveland TS18 3RH
Venue: Grade 2 Listed building located in 100 acres of parkland - opened as a museum and park by Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council in 1953 and relaunched in 2012.  Recent refurbishment, restoration and redevelopment project costing £7 million  and lasting nearly 3 years has made museum collection more accessible
Purpose: Combination of historic house and local history museum telling the story of Stockton. Includes community curated space and the temporary exhibitions gallery.
Visitors: not available - recently reopened
Location: Lloyd Park, Forest Road, Walthamstow London E17 4PP
Venue: Housed in a Georgian house; recent major redevelopment has provided transformed Gallery spaces, new education facilities and an extension. 
Purpose: the William Morris Gallery is the only gallery in Britain dedicated to the leader of the Arts and Crafts movement.  It now engages the local community by displaying Morris and what he was about by reinterpreting him for a 21st century audience
Visitors: c.100,000 visitors since it reopened in August 2012 with record numbers participating in events programme

The Winner....

If you listen in to BBC Radio 4’s Front Row you'll hear winner will be announced live from the award ceremony at the V&A museum in London on 4 June 2013.

Museum of the Year Photography Competition

You can find details of how to enter the Museum of the Year Photography Competition on the Art Fund website.   Check out the pretty nice prizes which include an iPad!

They're looking for the most innovative, atmospheric and even humorous images of the 10 museum finalists – from a beautiful image of the façade to a snap of your favourite object – your picture will creatively capture the spirit of the museum.

Read the terms and conditions carefully. The last call for entries is Wednesday 15 May.

History of the Museum of the Year Prize

The Prize started in 2001 when The Museum Prize Trust was set up to create a major annual prize for museums and galleries in the UK.

The idea was that there would be one major and prestigisous prize rather than several smaller and lower profile prizes.  The change involved cooperation between the Museums Association (excellent website!), The Art Fund (current organisers)National Heritage (the museums action movement - which doesn't seem to have been very active of late), and the Campaign for Museums (archived website) who all agreed to lend their support to a single major Prize.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for providing this great list of museums. When traveling I will bring this list with me.


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