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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.