Museum of the Year 2014 finalists announced
The Art Fund has announced the six museums in the running for this year's £100,000 Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year, from venerable national galleries to innovative local museums.
We're pleased to announce the six finalists, which have been chosen to represent the very best achievements of museums across the UK, from Portsmouth to West Yorkshire. Want to know what makes them special? Visit their Museum of the Year finalist profiles, linked below, which include videos and picture galleries of each venue:
Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft has been shortlisted following a major redevelopment project, which saw the East Sussex site and its collections transformed, presenting objects within the environment in which they were created by artists who lived and worked in Ditchling in the 20th century.
Hayward Gallery was shortlisted following the success of its ambitious 2013 exhibition programme. Shows at the London gallery, such as Light Show and Ana Mendieta: Traces, attracted many new visitors to the gallery, while the Hayward's eclectic touring exhibitions, including Curiosity: Art and the Pleasure of Knowing and The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things, brought unexpected art to record-breaking audiences across the UK.
Portsmouth's Mary Rose Museum was selected to be a finalist after opening in May 2013. The museum displays the starboard section of Henry VIII's flagship – which sank in 1545 – along with the equipment it was carrying and the possessions of its crew members.
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich was shortlisted following its two-year redevelopment. Housed in a listed masterpiece of modern architecture, its new facilities – which include the largest contiguous exhibition space in the east of England – launched in September 2013 with Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia, the centre's most ambitious exhibition to date.
Tate Britain earned its place among the finalists with a series of significant changes in 2013. Nine of its galleries were rebuilt to 21st-century standards, opening in May 2013 with a new chronological display of works from the Tate collection. In November, the Millbank entrance reopened to the public, combining new architectural features with the most beautiful elements of the original building.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park – the second finalist from the West Yorkshire city of Wakefield in as many years – was shortlisted for the strength of its exhibitions and displays in 2013, as well as the success of its innovative learning programme, which has engaged new audiences and provided a unique art experience for hard-to-reach groups.
The finalists were chosen by an independent panel of judges. Chaired by Art Fund Director Stephen Deuchar, the panel comprises Sally Bacon, Director of the Clore Duffield Foundation; the artist Michael Craig-Martin; Wim Pijbes, Drector of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; and Anna Somers Cocks, Chief Executive of the Art Newspaper.
The judges will visit each finalist in turn before choosing the winner of the prize, which will be announced on 9 July.
A 'museums in focus' photography competition will run for the duration of the prize, with museum visitors invited to submit their best photographs of the shortlisted museums for the chance to win a range of prizes, including a photography holiday to Italy courtesy of Frui Creative Holidays and Courses. There will be two categories – one for photographers aged 18+, one for children aged 17 and under – and free photography workshops will take place at the shortlisted museums and galleries.
Stephen Deuchar, chair of the judges, said: '2013 was a strong year, by any standards, for UK museums and it was no easy task to select a shortlist of six from an extraordinary body of applications. It is almost as if imaginative and innovative curatorship, combined with the highest standards of presentation, is no longer the exception but the rule.
'No wonder that the international reputation of UK museums is riding so high, and we’re delighted that the Museum of the Year will salute this through both the process of the competition and, of course, the £100,000 prize.'