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The Art Fund’s shortlist for Museum of the Year has been announced

29 April 2016

Five UK museums are in the running for the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2016. The £100,000 award recognises institutions, big and small, that have shown ‘imagination, innovation and achievement’ over the course of the year. ‘Each one of these five museums is outstanding – not just for the collections they display, but for the people who work there, and the visitors whose lives they can change’, said Stephen Deuchar in an announcement this morning. But only one can assume the title that was won by the revamped Whitworth in Manchester last year…Who do you think should win? See the full shortlist below.

Arnolfini, Bristol

Bristol’s Arnolfini, which occupies an old warehouse on the harbourside, is an important cultural hub in the city, hosting art, performance, dance, film and music events. It’s attracted some stellar artists in recent years – not least Richard Long, who spoke to Apollo as he prepared for his landmark show there last year.

Photo: Polly Braden

Richard Long installing ‘Time and Space’ at Arnolfini in 2015. Photo: Stephen Jackson

Bethlem Museum of the Mind, London

It’s been a big year for this small London museum, which moved into a renovated art deco building in Bethlem Royal Hospital in March 2015. The museum holds a major collection of objects related to mental health and the history of its care, study, and treatment. Its new premises were opened by Grayson Perry, and the gallery has seen a sharp increase in visitors over a relatively short period.

The Bethlem Museum of the Mind, with statues Raving and Melancholy Madness by Caius Gabriel Cibber.

The Bethlem Museum of the Mind, with statues Raving and Melancholy Madness by Caius Gabriel Cibber

South London and Maudsley CEO Matthew Patrick with Grayson Perry at the Bethlem Museum of the Mind, London.

South London and Maudsley CEO Matthew Patrick with Grayson Perry at the Bethlem Museum of the Mind, London. Photo: Camilla Greenwell

Jupiter Artland, West Lothian

Jupiter Artland commissions dramatic, site-specific work for its 100 acres of woodland and meadow near Edinburgh. But these large-scale outdoor pieces are just one part of the programme instigated by the owners, Robert and Nicky Wilson. In 2015 they extended the gallery spaces in Bonnington House to allow for ambitious indoor installations such as Tara Donovan’s Untitled: Plastic Cups, as well as launching an annual programme to support emerging artists, and expanding their learning programmes.

Life Mounds (2005–present), Charles Jencks, at Jupiter Artland

Life Mounds (2005–present), Charles Jencks, at Jupiter Artland. Photo: Allan Pollok-Morris

Untitled (Plastic Cups) (2006), Tara Donovan, at Jupiter Artland in 2015.

Untitled (Plastic Cups) (2006), Tara Donovan, at Jupiter Artland in 2015. Photo: Keith Hunter. Courtesy of the artist and Jupiter Artland

Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), London

The V&A has had a successful year on all fronts. Towards the end of 2015 they opened their refurbished Europe 1600–1815 galleries, in a significant update to their permanent displays. Recent temporary exhibitions on Alexander McQueen and David Bowie have proved extraordinarily popular, and the museum also pulled off a major fundraising campaign to acquire four angels originally created for Cardinal Wolsey’s tomb.

The Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Photo: Polly Braden

Photo: Polly Braden

Actor Paul Jesson as Cardinal Wolsey, with one of Wolsey's angels at the V&A

Actor Paul Jesson as Cardinal Wolsey, with one of Wolsey’s angels… © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

York Art Gallery, Yorkshire

The York Art Gallery completed an £8 million redevelopment project last year, reopening in August with 60 per cent more exhibition space, additional galleries, and a newly created Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) to show off its major collection of British Studio Ceramics. It was, mercifully, spared from the floods that wreaked havoc at museums elsewhere in York this winter.

York Art Gallery in January 2016

York Art Gallery in January 2016. Photo © Giles Rocholl

Inside the York Art Gallery. Photo: Polly Braden

Photo: Polly Braden

The winner of the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2016 will be announced on 6 July, at a ceremony in the Natural History Museum, London.

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