Museum of the Year 2016: Judges' comments

  • 15 July 2016

Last week the V&A was crowned Museum of the Year 2016, but our judges were impressed by all five finalist museums – read their comments.

The Museum of the Year finalists

The Museum of the Year finalists

Arnolfini, Bristol

Since marking its 40th anniversary in 2015 Arnolfini has redefined what a contemporary gallery can, and should, do – now acting as a cultural lynchpin in the regeneration and reinvigoration of Bristol’s harbourside. The judges were hugely impressed by what they saw; a space for all, which offers an outstanding, ambitious and bold artistic programme of the highest quality, and that has a deep-rooted connection and dedication to local and international audiences. They witnessed an organisation that embraces partnership and collaboration with open arms, ably demonstrated through the innovative partnership with the University of the West of England. With decisive and entrepreneurial leadership, and a gifted and inspiring team, the possibilities are legion, and the judges eagerly look forward to seeing what comes next.

Bethlem Museum of the Mind, London

The judges were astonished by Bethlem Museum of the Mind. This powerful museum asks all of us to rethink our relationship with mental health, and through sensitive and enlightened displays housed in a beautiful Art Deco building carefully tells the near 800 year history of psychiatric care and recovery.  After a very successful re-opening in 2015 the judges looked forward to seeing what the impact of this ground breaking museum would be across both the arts and health sectors, and what brave innovations might now follow.  Everyone should make a pilgrimage to this rare gem.

Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh

What Robert and Nicky Wilson have done at Jupiter Artland is turn patronage into something quite extraordinary. The judges were astounded not just by the exceptional quality of the work on display throughout this jewel of an institution, but also by the deep commitment to technological innovation, and the laudable ambition to extend the reach of an already pioneering learning programme. 2015 put Jupiter Artland firmly on the map as one of the UK’s most significant and original galleries, it is a truly magical place that invites you to ‘be’ in a different way.

V&A, London – winner of Museum of the Year 2016

The V&A experience is an unforgettable one. Its recent exhibitions from Alexander McQueen to The Fabric of India, and the opening of its new Europe 1600 – 1815 galleries, were all exceptional accomplishments - at once entertaining and challenging, rooted in contemporary scholarship, and designed to reach and affect the lives of a large and diverse national audience.  It was already one of the best-loved museums in the country:  this year it has indisputably become one of the best museums in the world.

York Museum and Art Gallery

The judges agreed that the transformation of York Art Gallery is a triumph. The presentation of significant collections of fine art, ceramics and social history, via eclectic and visually arresting displays, in elegant and architecturally beautiful spaces, had been achieved with complete success. The judges were highly impressed with everything they witnessed at the museum, the hugely talented team delivering an experience of the highest possible quality, demonstrating creativity, imagination and dynamism along the way.

Tags: Museums and galleriesmuseum-of-the-year