Art Fund Prize shortlist revealed

  • Published 14 May 2010

It's the news that the 11 long-listed museums are galleries have been waiting for; the list of 4 institutions that have made it into the final stage of the competition to win the £100,000 Art Fund Prize, the UK's largest single arts prize.

The ambitious multi-million redevelopment of Britain’s oldest museums, the Ashmolean, has made it on to the short list, as has Blists Hill, the lively and enchanting experience of a typical Shropshire town. Coventry’s Herbert Art Gallery Museum which was re-launched 18 months ago and Belfast’s major focal point, Ulster Museum, make up the short list of four.

The winner will be announced on the evening of 30 June 2010.

Kirsty Young, Chair of the Judges comments: “My fellow judges and I have found it a very challenging task to select only four to go forward to the short list. Our visits have been eye-opening and the exceptional quality of the long list has meant that we’ve been spoilt for choice. During our deliberations the Judges’ passion and enthusiasm for the museums and galleries was more than evident.”

Dr Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, comments: “This year’s short list is exceptionally strong; it vividly demonstrates the range of ways in which museums are creatively using their collections to engage visitors.”

For the first time, the Art Fund Prize website is hosting a public poll, with the option for voters to leave comments in support of their favourite museum or gallery. Votes and comments will be given to the Judges for their consideration when selecting this year’s Winner. Visitors to the website can also enter an exclusive competition to win a limited edition Jonathan Yeo print. To vote, comment, or for more information about the Prize go to:

About the four short listed museums

The Ashmolean Museum is one of the great university museums of the world that extends and enhances public access to its remarkable collections of art and archaeology and is nominated for an ambitious redevelopment. The sensitively executed £61 million redevelopment, designed by award-winning Rick Mather Architects, has extended the Grade 1 listed building to provide 39 new galleries, complete with an innovative redisplay of the collections, an education centre, rooftop restaurant, conservation studios, study rooms and stores.

Blists Hill Victorian Town is the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust’s largest site totalling 54 acres, and presents life in a typical town of the East Shropshire Coalfield around 1900. Blists Hill Victorian Town is brought to life through a unique mix of first and third-person interpretation, combining the efforts of costumed museum staff, professional actors and volunteers. The £12 million development of Blists Hill has seen the creation of a landmark Visitor Centre and World Heritage Site exhibition, a new street of shops and trades, a clay-mining experience, a narrow gauge railway and an incline lift. Blists Hill Victorian Town is the most famous of the charitable trust’s 10 museums, situated within the beautiful Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site.

The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum re-launched in October 2008 following a £20 million redevelopment of the existing building. The new space incorporates an atrium, seven new permanent galleries, a History Centre, creative media studios, education spaces, temporary exhibition galleries, collections stores and other visitor facilities. The new Herbert’s building and displays have made it a focus for local pride in a city whose 20th century history has included wartime destruction, economic decline and demographic change.

Ulster Museum’s major project Opening up the Ulster Museum represents the first substantial development of this national museum in almost 40 years and making an important contribution to the cultural rejuvenation of Northern Ireland. The three year project, at a cost of £17.8 million, has radically reconfigured the Museum’s listed building, offering a series of new galleries including interactive Learning Zones, a stunning new Applied Art Gallery and state-ofthe-art, 3 storey-high Window on Our World display. The Ulster Museum re-opened on 22 October 2009 with a landmark retrospective exhibition by world renowned abstract artist, Sean Scully. Since its redevelopment, the Ulster Museum has become Northern Ireland’s busiest visitor attraction.

Press Release
The Art Fund Prize website

Art Fund Prize long list announced, 19th February 2010