Five museums across the UK shortlisted for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2021

Visitors enjoy Experience Barnsley
Visitors enjoy Experience Barnsley, one of the five finalists for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2021

Art Fund, the national charity for art, today announced the five museums which have been selected as finalists for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2021, the world’s largest museum prize.

The shortlisted museums are:

  • Centre for Contemporary Art, Derry~Londonderry

  • Experience Barnsley

  • Firstsite, Colchester

  • Thackray Museum of Medicine. Leeds

  • Timespan, Helmsdale

Art Fund annually shortlists five outstanding museums for the Art Fund Museum of the Year prize. The 2021 edition reflects the resilience and imagination of museums throughout the pandemic. At this moment of museums re-opening and starting their recovery, the 2021 prize highlights and rewards the extraordinary and innovative ways in which museums have, over the past year, served and connected with their communities, even when they have had to close their physical spaces.

The winning museum will be announced at a ceremony in the week commencing 20 September and will receive £100,000. The other four shortlisted museums will each receive £15,000 in recognition of their achievements.

The members of this year’s judging panel, chaired by Art Fund director Jenny Waldman, are: Maria Balshaw, director of Tate and chair of the National Museum Directors’ Council; Edith Bowman, broadcaster; Katrina Brown, director of The Common Guild and Art Fund trustee; Suhair Khan, strategic projects lead at Google; and artist Thomas J Price.

The judges will visit each of the finalists to help inform their decision-making, while each museum will make the most of being shortlisted over the summer through special events and activities for both new and current visitors.

Speaking on behalf of the judges, Jenny Waldman, director, Art Fund said: 'Art Fund Museum of the Year 2021 attracted a flood of applications and it has been incredible to see what museums, galleries and historic houses across the UK have achieved, overcoming the challenges of the past year. Their resilience is nothing short of heroic. Our five finalists are all deeply embedded in their communities and alive to the possibilities of reaching far beyond their locality digitally. They have each shown extraordinary innovation and resolve. I would encourage everyone to visit them if they possibly can – in person or online – or make a beeline to a museum close to you this summer.’

Art Fund Museum of the Year continues its collaboration with the BBC in 2021, with coverage to be announced in due course.

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