About the Prize

The Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year celebrates museums and galleries across the UK – annually awarding one outstanding winner £100,000.

Cornelia Parker, Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View at the Whitworth, Museum of the Year 2015 © David Levene

Cornelia Parker, Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View at the Whitworth, Museum of the Year 2015

The Prize champions what museums do, encourages more people to visit, and gets to the heart of what makes a truly outstanding museum. The judges will present the 2016 Prize to the museum or gallery that has best achieved some or all of the following criteria:

  • Undertaken projects that will provide a lasting legacy or have a transformative effect on the museum.
  • Brought its collections to life for audiences – engaging, inspiring and extending public understanding.
  • Delivered an original audience development, learning or outreach programme.
  • Clearly won the support and enthusiasm of its visitors and users.

Take a look at the 2016 shortlist. This year's ceremony will take place in the spectacular setting of the Natural History Museum on 6 July 2016, before an invited audience of leading culture and museum figures. 

2015's winner was the Whitworth, Manchester, an impressive institution that has cemented its place at the centre of the cultural national stage.


For the first time, in 2016 we will be offering bursaries to Museum of the Year finalists who require financial support to help them make the most of their public engagement campaigns. We are aware that museums can benefit hugely from being shortlisted, but that marketing and communications can be a challenge to resource. Find out more in our information pack for applicants.

Key dates

  • 9 December 2015 – applications open
  • 10 February 2016 – application deadline
  • 29 April 2016 – shortlist of finalists is announced
  • May and June 2016 – judging panel visit finalists
  • 6 July 2016 – Museum of the Year 2016 winner announced at the Natural History Museum, London