The Art Fund Prize Longlist has been announced - 10 museums and galleries which are competing for the £100,000 prize, previously known as the Gulbenkien Prize. This aims to "recognise and stimulate originality and excellence in museums and galleries in the UK, and increase public appreciation and enjoyment of all they have to offer."
Previous winners which I have visited are the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art which won in 2004 for "Landform" - the superb sculptural landscaping of it's front lawn by Charles Jencks:
|Picture from the National Galleries of Scotland|
The SS Great Britain in Bristol won in 2006. I've blogged about it before - it truly is a fantastic visitor attraction:
Last Year's winner was the British Museum, specifically for their "History of the World in 100 Objects" which was accompanied by an excellent radio series.
This year's list has two institutions I've visited and two old friends which have been extensively refurbished but which I haven't been back to since they reopened.
Bristol's M Shed is housed in the former home of the Industrial Museum and is a hands-on, interactive museum which tells Bristol's story as a centre of trade and commerce, slavery and home to an ever-evolving ethnic-mix. Somewhat controversial locally (it ran over-time and over-budget), it is the type of museum which benefits from repeated visits, rather than seen as a challenge to "do" in one visit.
A similar thing can be said of another leading candidate - Glasgow's Riverside Museum. It's a replacement for the Museum of Transport but covers elements of social history and the shipbuilding heritage of the Clyde on which it sits. To top that it is designed by Zaha Hadid and is, quite simply a fabulous building. Two future photo blogs are planned (I visited it when I was home at Christmas) but here's a teaser picture:
Edinburgh's refurbished Portrait Gallery and the extensively refurbished and redeveloped National Museum of Scotland (blogged about by Caron at Caron's Musings here) are also nominated - they're also top of my list for visits next time I'm home!
The remaining candidates are:
Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes
Holburne Museum, Bath - as this is about 12 miles away from me, I have little excuse not to visit!
Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter
Turner Contempory, Margate
Watts Gallery, Guildford
Full details are on The Art Fund Prize website - I look forward to seeing the shortlist and the eventual winner.