Five institutions from across the UK engaged in “vital issues of today” have been shortlisted for the £120,000 Museum Of The Year prize.
The Natural History Museum in London, The Metropolitan Arts Centre (MAC) in Belfast and Glasgow’s The Burrell Collection are among those competing in the 10th year of the world’s largest museum prize.
Scapa Flow Museum in Orkney and Leighton House in London complete the list of finalists for the Art Fund award, which celebrates the resilience, creativity and imagination of UK museums.
Organisers said the nominees “demonstrate transformational impact, redeveloping their offers with diverse and inspiring stories at their heart and responding to vital issues of today”.
The Natural History Museum is known for showcasing some of the country’s best collections of science and nature, while The MAC homes evolving exhibitions and theatre performances.
The Scapa Flow Museum tells the story of the area’s role during the two world wars – and Leighton House is the former home and studio of the leading Victorian artist Lord Frederic Leighton.
The Burrell Collection also holds the art collection of Sir William Burrell and his wife Lady Constance.
Speaking on behalf of the judges, Jenny Waldman, the director of the Art Fund, said: “The five Art Fund Museum of the Year 2023 finalists are at the top of their game, offering inspirational collections and programmes for their communities, for visitors from across the UK and around the world.
“From transformational redevelopment to community involvement to addressing the major issues of today, the shortlisted museums may operate at very different scales, but all show astonishing ambition and boundless creativity.
“Each is a blueprint for future innovation in museums. Visit them if you possibly can.”
Alongside Ms Waldman, the panel also includes artist Larry Achiampong, historian and broadcaster Dame Mary Beard, author Abadesi Osunsade, and Laura Pye, the director of National Museums Liverpool.
The judges will visit each of the finalists to inform their decision-making, while each museum will make the most of being shortlisted over the summer through events and activities for new and current visitors.
2023 marks 10 years of the prize, which is grounded in 50 years of championing the UK’s 2,500 museums, galleries and heritage sites.
This year the prize fund has been increased by £20,000 from the past £100,000 amount to mark 120 years of the Art Fund supporting museums.
The other nominees will each be given £15,000.
The winning museum will be announced at a ceremony at the British Museum in London on July 12.
Last year, The Horniman Museum and Gardens in London was crowned museum of the year.
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