Seven things you need to know about Museum of the Year

  • Published 9 December 2015

From how to keep the winner a secret to what catches the judges' eye, here are some top facts about the prize.

1. The largest single arts prize in the UK

With a prize of £100,000, Museum of the Year is the largest single arts prize in the UK (the Turner Prize, for instance, awards £25,000). It is also the biggest museum prize in the world.

2. It doesn’t have to be an arts museum

Applicants don’t have to be an arts-focused museum or gallery. For example – IWM London and HM Tower of London, which both explore history, rather than art – were both shortlisted for the award in 2015.

3. No nominations needed

Applications are open to any UK museum. There is no need for nominations. This contrasts with the Turner Prize (which has no entry process) and book prizes (for which publishers can officially nominate one or two authors).

4. Coming back for more

In 2006, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park was nominated for the prize but lost out to SS Great Britain. In 2014, the park was shortlisted again and won. Being shortlisted one year doesn’t stop the museum from winning in another year.

5. Celebrating innovation

The prize celebrates innovative ways in which museums bring their collections to life and embark on projects that have a lasting legacy. This includes building renovations, exhibitions and audience engagement. For instance, the British Museum was crowned the winner in 2011 for A History of the World, its original project that used objects to engage people with history in a new way.

6. Every application is seen by the judges

All applications submitted for the prize are initially assessed by an Art Fund panel and then presented to the judges who decide the finalists. The winner is selected after the judges have visited all the finalists.

7. Top secret

The winner is announced at an evening reception. The final decision about who will be crowned the Museum of the Year is not made until the day of the ceremony. This keeps the winner strictly secret before the reception.

Applications for Museum of the Year 2016 are now open. To apply, please complete the application form.

Tags: Museums and galleriesmuseum-of-the-yearSupporting museums