Museum of the Year: Q&A with judge Richard Deacon

Artist Richard Deacon is one of the judges for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017. With just three days to go before the shortlist is announced, we asked him what makes a good museum and what he's looking for in this year's finalists.

Richard Deacon is a leading sculptor. A large-scale survey of his work was exhibited at Tate Britain in early 2014. In 2015/16 a 10-year survey – On The Other Side – toured to museums in Switzerland, Azerbaijan and Germany. A collected edition of his writings, 'So, If, And, But', was published in English and in German in 2014. He has recently completed commissions in Beijing and Tokyo and is building a bridge in Belgrade. He is an Art Fund trustee.

1. What inspires you most about museums?

I think it’s the idea of a collection. There are innumerable ways of organising a collection and museums attempt many very different methods, but what you see is a kind of order and a way of interpreting some parts of the world, but a good museum never leaves you thinking that there is only one way.

2. What role do you think museums play in our civic and cultural life?

I think museums are repositories of the past and a guarantee for the future. They are often full of stuff, but they are not filled, like some miser's cache, with stuff that somebody owns, but with things that are ours.

3. Can you tell us about a time when a museum has really wowed you?

When I was eight years old my mother took me to London on my own with her for three days – it was a special treat she gave to each of us three children in turn. I spent two of my days in the British Museum, but in all that immensity, I came across some objects that had been excavated from a place I knew – Hod Hill in Dorset: a bronze age sword and shield.

4. As a judge, what are you looking for in this year’s entrants?

Informed passion.

5. If you had to spend a night alone in a UK museum, which one would it be and why?

Obviously, it would have to be somewhere with a bed, and the best bed that I can think of is the Great Bed of Ware in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The finalists for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017 will be announced on 27 April. The overall winner will be revealed at a ceremony on 5 July at the British Museum.

You can get involved by posting your photos, comments, memories and moments from your favourite museum, using #museumoftheyear

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