Roman Baths Museum next stop for Michael Portillo and judges

  • 29 March 2011

Next Monday, 4 April, Michael Portillo and fellow Art Fund Prize judges will visit the Roman Baths Museum, long listed for this year's £100,000 Art Fund Prize.

Run by Bath & North East Somerset Council, the Roman Baths Museum is among ten museums and galleries to be long listed for the prestigious accolade. It was selected for its Development project.

On Monday 4 April Michael Portillo will be accompanied by three fellow judges: artist Jeremy Deller, Guardian journalist Charlotte Higgins and Kathy Gee, museums and heritage consultant. They will be given a tour around the museum by Stephen Clews, Roman Baths and Pump Room Manager.

In advance of the visit, Stephen Clews said: “The Roman Baths Development has engaged our visitors who have been full of praise for what has been achieved. We now have the opportunity to show the Art Fund Prize judges how presentation and accessibility has been transformed whilst protecting and enhancing the museum collections and historic fabric of this astonishingly well preserved Roman site.”

The Roman Baths is an archaeological site and museum built around Britain's only hot spring. It tells the story of 7,000 years of human development around the Spring.

Between now and May, each museum and gallery will be visited by the judges before they meet to select the short list, which will be announced live on Front Row on 19 May. The £100,000 Art Fund Prize will be awarded on 15 June.

Vote online for your favourite museum or gallery, send us your comments and enter a draw to win an iPad.

Here are some comments made by the public in support of the Roman Baths Museum:

“The museum accompanying the Roman Baths site gives the visitor an unprecedented and vivid insight and experience of daily life at the baths with models, life-size video projections and computer graphics, as well as archaeological finds. The subdued lighting maintains the sense of mystery and awe in what was also a religious site. The free audio guide with various types of commentary for children as well as adults fully complements the tour of the site, and actors in costume around the great bath add to the experience. The best archaeological museum I know.”

David Appleyard

“The Roman Baths is an extraordinary place. Its ability to draw thousands of tourists to Britain and the West Country every year should never be underestimated. The Baths are a rich source of cultural education, informing students of all ages. When I walk around the edge of the pool I look into the alcoves and am transported back in time. I can see Roman's relaxing and drinking wine and hear them gossiping and chatting whilst they have a manicure or massage. It's a truly live experience.”

Yvonne Midgley, Devizes

“This wonderful museum has made great strides in interpretation over the years. The visit is an atmospheric one and it really gives the visitor the impression of being alive in the Roman era and paying a visit to the bath house.”

Terri Welch

Later this spring you’ll be able to listen to Jeremy Deller’s exclusive audio diary series from his museum visits on Radio 4’s Front Row. Watch this space for more information.

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