Museum of the Year 2019

Museum of the Year 2019

The prize that shines a spotlight on the unique experiences, breath-taking spaces, and outstanding collections you’ll want to explore. Discover the best of the UK's museums, including this year's winner, St Fagans National Museum of History .

The winner and shortlist

St Fagans National Museum of History

St Fagans

10% off in Shop and Café with National Art Pass

If 'museum of history' conjures up images of tired old exhibits trapped in display cases, do yourself a favour and head to St Fagans, just outside Cardiff. Here, over 40 historical buildings have been transported from across Wales, faithfully re-erected and set within 100 acres of beautiful parkland.

Once inside, you’ll find ‘history’ alive and kicking, so get ready for a journey of discovery. Walk right in and explore a Tudor merchant’s house or a Victorian country school. Watch blacksmiths, bakers and clog-makers demonstrate traditional skills. Visit one of the three new galleries that explore the everyday lives of Welsh people across millennia. St Fagans is about creating history with rather than for people, so there’s something to see and do around every corner.

HMS Caroline


Free entry with National Art Pass

From dockyard derelict to major heritage attraction, HMS Caroline was saved from the scrapyard in 2011 and is the only remaining survivor from the Battle of Jutland, the largest naval clash of the First World War. It has a fascinating story to tell of life at sea, the human side of conflict, and 90 years of Belfast’s history.

Situated in the city’s famous Titanic quarter, visitors are led through an immersive exhibition in a restored Victorian pump-house before being ushered onboard the ship itself. Once afloat, there’s a chance to walk the gun decks, explore beautifully recreated quarters, and sample the delights of the café. You can also step into the shoes of the crew and have a go at cracking codes, sending semaphore signals, and piloting the ship from a virtual bridge.

Nottingham Contemporary


10% off in shop with National Art Pass

Whether you’re into contemporary art, spirited cultural debate, or just want to be where the buzz is, head to Nottingham Contemporary. With an acclaimed exhibitions and events programme, its award-winning galleries, hewn right into the city’s sandstone, make up one of the largest contemporary arts centres in the UK, and present an international array of solo and group shows by the most exciting artists working today.

Recent popular exhibitions have focused on art in the age of #MeToo, work by Middle Eastern artists and the UK’s largest ever survey of American photography. Marry all that with a bold approach to performance art and exciting digital projects, and this is one gallery that should be sky-high on your must-see list.

Pitt Rivers Museum


10% off in shop with National Art Pass

When General Pitt Rivers donated his personal collection to Oxford University in 1884, he was clearly ambitious for its future, insisting that a special museum be built. But maybe even he couldn’t have imagined that his passion would grow into the most important archaeology and anthropology collection outside the British Museum.

Now over 600,000 objects strong, the breath-taking collection spans every period of human history and all corners of the globe. From musical instruments and jewellery to ancient tools and war trophies, the objects are still arranged by type, as Pitt Rivers wished, rather than by era or region. The effect is a riotous celebration of human creativity and cultural diversity. The museum also tackles difficult questions around colonial history and invites local and global communities to regularly challenge and reinterpret its collections.

V&A Dundee


Free exhibitions with National Art Pass

The UK’s only design museum outside London, V&A Dundee landed in September last year like a big shiny spaceship loaded with gifts. The building alone is a wonder to behold, jutting out over the River Tay, and resembling the north coast’s mighty sea cliffs. Inside, the story of Scotland’s rich and fascinating design history has finally found a permanent home.

The 300 exhibits range from fashion to engineering to videogame design, with Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s exquisitely designed Oak Room, resurrected after 50 years in storage, standing at its heart. Other highlights include a 15th-century book of illuminated manuscripts, the Valkyrie Tiara comprising 2,500 diamonds, and a geometric elephant made out of linoleum. The museum also runs a programme of major exhibitions, highlighting the best of design from around the world.

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