5 Venues Compete For Art Fund UK Museum Of The Year Title 2

5 Venues Compete For Art Fund UK Museum Of The Year Title

Five Venues Compete For Art Fund UK Museum Of The Year Title

The finalists have been announced for the Art Fund’s prestigious UK Museum of the Year title, which brings public recognition and a £135,000 cash prize to the winner, which will be announced on July 10. The finalists will each be awarded £15,000. This year, a diverse range of institutions in Manchester, Dundee, Kipton, and London make the final.

The prize is described as the world’s biggest museum prize, and it champions the work of outstanding museums and encourages more people to visit. The shortlisted museums receive bespoke marketing support during the campaign, including national press coverage and opportunities for collaborations and partnerships. 

Art Fund has been running the prize since 2013, although it has existed in various forms for the past 50 years. The assessment criteria for the awards includes outstanding and inspiring projects; demonstrating ambition in understanding and reaching out to contemporary and future audiences; community engagement; and making an impact and preparing a legacy. 

Art Fund is an arts charity that was established in 1903 to help people share in great art and culture, and it helps museums to build and develop their collections for the benefit of wider society and the cultural health and diversity of the nation. The first Art Fund Museum of the Year Award in 2013 was won by the William Morris Gallery in east London

The hopefuls in the frame this year are highly diverse, including natural history, portraiture, fine art, and textiles. The projects considered were open to the public from autumn 2022 through to winter 2023. 

Speaking on behalf of the judges to BBC News, Jenny Waldman, the director of Art Fund, described the shortlist as “shining examples of the impact museums are making locally and nationally”. She added: “Each of our finalists truly has something for everyone and all have community at the very heart of their programming.”

“Their commitment to innovative partnerships whilst operating within an extremely challenging funding environment is incredible, and I’m so pleased to see the way they support and centre young people through their work.”

The shortlisted candidates include Craven Museum (Skipton, North Yorkshire); Dundee Contemporary Arts (Dundee); Manchester Museum (Manchester); National Portrait Gallery (London); and Young V&A, Victoria and Albert Museum (London). Here’s a closer look at these intriguing selections. 


Craven Museum, Skipton, North Yorkshire

The Craven Museum is integrated with Skipton Town Hall, and is impressively focused on the local community, with artefacts such as local Roman finds and the diary of a 19th century Skipton mill worker. There’s also examples of local textiles, fine art, and social history. Entry is free, children are particularly welcome, and there is space for community groups.


Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee

Dundee Contemporary Arts is regarded as one of Scotland’s most prestigious arts venues, and it has been recognised for leading Art Night in Dundee, the first time the event was held outside of London. The venue embraces a range of genres, including sculpture, painting, moving image, and installations. 


Manchester Museum, Manchester

This is a university museum specialising in natural sciences and anthropology , and has an outstanding Egyptology collection. The museum was recently renovated and reopened last February with a £15m ‘hello future’ project. It is intended to promote a dialogue between the pan-cultural population of the city and explore how communities connect.

The museum also boasts one of world’s rarest amphibians, after the variable harlequin toad was successfully bred in a vivarium. The toad is only known to survive in two other places in the world; Panama and Costa Rica. 


National Portrait Gallery, London

The National Portrait Gallery underwent a £41m revamp and reopened to the public in June 2023. The reaction was largely positive, as the somewhat stuffy and male-dominated approach of the past was replaced with something fresher and more inclusive.

There are 35 per cent more female sitters and artists in the post-1900 collection, and more representation of minority and LGBTQ communities. 


Young V&A, London

The former V&A Museum of Childhood has undergone a £13m redesign, and dated and unimaginative displays have been replaced with creative and inclusive spaces that are designed to appeal to children. It caters for youngsters up to the age of 14, with fun exhibitions and a resident jewellery designer.