The Art Fund’s Museum of the Year shortlist has been announced with the Lapworth Museum of Geology in Birmingham; the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art, Newmarket; Sir John Soane’s Museum, London; Tate Modern, London; and the Hepworth Wakefield nominated for the £100,000 prize. For the first time, the other shortlisted museums will also receive £10,000 each.
The winning museum will be announced 5 July at the British Museum in London. The judging panel includes high-profile names from the culture sector such as Hartwig Fischer, the director of the British Museum; Munira Mirza, former deputy mayor of London for education and culture; and the artist Richard Deacon. Jo Whiley, the BBC Radio 2 DJ and presenter, is also on the panel.
Tate Modern's Herzog & de Meuron-designed Switch House extension opened in June (Photo: © Marc Atkins)
Tate Modern opened its Herzog & de Meuron-designed Switch House extension last June, drawing 143,000 visitors in its first three days. Meanwhile, Hepworth Wakefield launched an ambitious programme last year to mark its fifth anniversary, with shows dedicated to Martin Parr and Stanley Spencer, as well as hosting the inaugural Hepworth Prize for Sculpture. Last autumn, Sir John Soane’s Museum in London completed a seven-year, £7m project to reinstate its founder’s original design.
The Sir John Soane’s Museum in London completed a seven-year project to reinstate its founder’s original design (Photo: © Marc Atkins)
The least well known nominees include the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art, described by The Art Fund as a “cultural hub in the heart of Newmarket which combines the history, science, art and culture of horseracing with the finest examples of British sporting art, together with an opportunity for visitors to meet former racehorses in the restored stables and newly-built arena.”
The Lapworth Museum of Geology, part of the University of Birmingham, is another underdog. It reopened last June after a £2.7m redevelopment and is commended for bringing to life more than 250,000 objects, ranging from fossils to volcanic rocks.
A young visitor gets to grips with a sabre-toothed skull at the Lapworth Museum of Geology in Birmingham (Photo: © Marc Atkins)
Finding the next George Stubbs: life painting with a twist at the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art in Newmarket (Photo: © Marc Atkins)
The Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar, says: “Whether unveiling new buildings, galleries, displays or public programmes, all the finalists have shown a real commitment to innovation and experimentation, offering fresh perspectives and news ways of seeing and understanding their collections.” Last year's winner was the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.