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Art Fund Museum of the Year 2021

Art Fund Museum of the Year celebrates exceptional museums, galleries and historic houses, recognises imaginative work, and inspires more people to engage.

In 2021 we believe it’s more important than ever to champion our vital museums and this year are seeking applications that tell the story of the creativity and resilience of the sector.

Are you the next Art Fund Museum of the Year?

The last year has been like no other. Museum and gallery doors were temporarily closed to the public, and many faced their greatest of challenges. Despite the extraordinary circumstances, museums still undertook amazing and imaginative work for communities, and connected with and reached audiences in new ways.

As you begin to welcome back visitors, we want to help you celebrate your achievements, advocate for your work and share your story with everyone.

  • In the last year did you undertake innovative online projects, exhibitions or events, or did your engagement programmes make a difference to the lives of people in your community?
  • Did your creative use of digital media and technology help audiences to connect with your programme or collection?
  • Did you roll out programmes of activity which brought joy, aided wellbeing or alleviated isolation?
  • Perhaps your museum renewed its commitment to diversity and inclusion, engaged with key issues, or made bold choices to ensure you’re best serving your audiences?

These are just some of the reasons why you could apply for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2021.

We are keen to hear from all kinds of organisations, no matter the shape, size or location, whether you have a collection or not, or whether or not you opened your doors to the public in the last year.

You can choose to focus on one thing in your application or give us an overview of several types of activity. We ask only that you can tell us, in your own words, what you did in the last year which showed imagination and determination, how this made a difference, and how you will build on this in the future.

So, if you have a story to tell, we strongly encourage you to apply.

“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.”

Jenny Waldman, Art Fund director and chair of the judges

Get in touch

The best way to begin the process is to contact prize project manager Amy Dickson at or 0207 225 4836 / 07734 229 959, who can discuss any initial queries you may have.

How to apply

Further information about the prize and guidance on how to apply can be found in the application pack – please read this carefully before you apply.

You can preview a copy of the application form questions in advance of completing the form.

Applications are made online, by logging in to or creating a My Art Fund account. You must be registered as a professional user. If you already have an account but are not registered as a professional user, you can add your professional details when logged in.

As part of the application process you will need to submit:

  • your completed online application form
  • a short letter of support from your director confirming their wish for the organisation to be considered, and agreeing to our terms and conditions for longlisted and shortlisted organisations
  • up to 8 pieces of digital media (photographs, films, screenshots) that best illustrate your application

If you require application forms in an alternative format, please contact the Programmes team on

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