Applications open for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2021

We’re pleased to announce that applications for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2021 are now open, with the prize highlighting the imagination and resilience of museums throughout the pandemic.

Open to all UK institutions, Art Fund Museum of the Year champions the country’s galleries and museums, and this edition promises to reward and reflect the extraordinary ways in which they have served their communities over the past year.

With a total prize fund of £160,000, Art Fund Museum of the Year is the largest museum prize in the world. Applications for the 2021 prize open today, Friday 30 April, with an application deadline of Monday 1 June 2021.

A shortlist of five museums will be announced in mid-July and the winner revealed in the autumn. At this moment of museums re-opening and starting their recovery, the 2021 prize will showcase museums’ spirit and determination, even when most have been forced to close their doors, some for the entire year.

This year’s winner will receive £100,000 and each of the four other finalists will receive £15,000 – an increase of £5,000 on previous years to give museums additional funds when they are most needed.

Art Fund is encouraging applications from any museum, gallery or historic house, including those who have been forced to close their physical spaces throughout 2020/21.

This year, we’ll be asking applicants to answer three questions:

  • What did you do in the last year that showed imagination and determination?

  • How do you think this made a difference?

  • How will you build on this in the future?

The 2021 judging panel, chaired by Art Fund director Jenny Waldman, will include: Maria Balshaw, director of Tate and chair of the National Museum Directors’ Council; Katrina Brown, director of The Common Guild and Art Fund trustee; Suhair Khan, strategic projects lead at Google; and artist Thomas J Price.

Jenny Waldman said: 'The pandemic has seen museums, galleries and historic houses face their greatest challenge in living memory. The doors had to close for much of the last year, but so many museums have found imaginative ways to serve their local communities, connect with new audiences and share their collections digitally. It is nothing short of heroic. I would encourage all museums to tell us what has been achieved against the odds, so that we can reward, celebrate and share this incredible work with everyone.'

Art Fund Museum of the Year will continue its collaboration with the BBC in 2021.

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