For 50 years the Art Fund Museum of the Year award has champions museums, galleries and heritage sites around the UK, celebrating their innovative work and highlighting the impacts they have had on their audiences. All shortlisted museums demonstrate transformational impact, redeveloping their offers with diverse and inspiring stories at their heart, and shaping the response to vital issues of today.
Each of the finalists will be visited by a judging panel who will then decide on who to crown the winner on July 12th. This year the panel includes the artist Larry Achiampong, historian and broadcaster Mary Beard, Art Fund Trustee and Author Abadesi Osunsade, Director of National Museums Liverpool Laura Pye and the chair Art Fund Director Jenny Waldman.
Speaking on behalf of the judges, Jenny Waldman, Director of the Art Fund said, 'All five of our finalists are at the top of their game, offering inspirational collections and programmes for their communities and 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.'
As the custodian of one of the world's most important natural history collections and employing over 300 scientists, the Natural History Museum is uniquely positioned to be a powerful champion for balancing humanity's needs with those of the natural world.
Dr Doug Gurr, the Director of the Natural History Museum, said, 'I am enormously proud that the Museum has been shortlisted for the Museum of the Year 2023 Award and to congratulate the four other fantastic finalists. Our mission is to create advocates for the planet and I'd like to thank everyone at the Museum who continues to work so tirelessly to contribute to urgent global discussions about how best to address the planetary emergency and make a positive difference to the global future.'
Going beyond the presentation of the home of a Victorian painter to explore broader themes of identity and cultural interaction, Leighton House Museum has also been recognised for its inspiring collaborations with contemporary artists, makers and creatives to produce works and experiences which resonate with the influences of the house and connect with wider audiences. From bespoke hand-crafted furniture by displaced Syrian artisans, to Shahrzad Ghaffari's Oneness mural, Anhaar by Sara Choudhrey, Maya Youssef's musical qanun commission, and countless other partnerships, the museum continues Frederic Leighton's celebration of the wider world.
Daniel Robbins, Senior Curator of Leighton House Museum said 'We are all thrilled to be on the shortlist for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2023; to have our transformational project recognised in this way means so much to all our staff, volunteers and supporters. The public reaction since reopening has been fantastic and we are determined to continue reinventing what a house museum can be.'
The Arts Fund prize champions the essence of museums and delves into the core elements that define an extraordinary museum experience. As the vibrant hub of arts, science, and inspiration in London, it is thrilling to witness the acknowledgment of South Ken's venues for their remarkable accomplishments in the past year, their innovative endeavors, and the profound impact they have made on audiences.