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Ten Museums in Running for Art Fund Prize 2011

The long list of museums competing for the ‘Museum of the Year’ accolade has been selected by an independent panel of judges, chaired this year by broadcaster and former cabinet minister Michael Portillo.

The Art Fund Prize 2011 rewards excellence and innovation in museums and galleries in the UK for a project completed or undertaken in 2010. Following a short list of four museums to be announced on 19 May, the £100,000 cash prize will be awarded to the ‘Museum of the Year’ at a ceremony on 15 June.

This is the fourth year that the Prize has been sponsored by the Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for works of art that plays a major part in enriching the range and quality of art on public display in the UK.

As Chair of the Judges, Michael Portillo will announce that ten museums have been long listed for the following projects:

• British Museum, London, A History of the World

• Hertford Museum, Hertfordshire, Hertford Museum’s Development Project

• Leighton House, London, Closer To Home: The Restoration and Reopening of Leighton House Museum

• Mostyn, Llandudno, Wales, Refurbishment and extension of Mostyn gallery

• People’s History Museum, Manchester, The new People’s History Museum 2010

• Polar Museum, University of Cambridge, Promoting Britain’s Polar Heritage

• The new Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Alloway, Scotland

• Roman Baths Museum, Bath, Roman Baths Development

• V&A, London, Ceramics Study Galleries

• Yorkshire Museum, York, Letting in the Light – Revitalising the Yorkshire Museum for the 21st century

Michael Portillo, Chair of the Judges, said: “Making the selection was far from easy, out of an extensive list of strong entries. The result shows a wide geographical spread with museums from Scotland, Wales and a strong representation in the North of England. Equally remarkable is the variety of institutions included from the tiny Hertford Museum to the V&A and British Museum. Subject matter is equally diverse, ranging from contemporary art spaces to the history of polar exploration. We now look forward to visiting these outstanding examples of excellence and innovation in the museum world with a view to announcing the short list on 19 May. We also look forward to taking account of the public vote in which people can participate online.”

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said: “The Art Fund Prize annually champions the most fascinating, challenging and engaging new museum projects in the UK. As ever, our panel of judges had a tough job selecting a long list from a strong set of applications, but they finally came to the unanimous decision in favour of these ten museums and galleries, each encapsulating excellence and innovation, albeit all in very different ways. From Llandudno to Hertford, London to Alloway, we hope people will go and be inspired by these spectacular projects, and that they’ll come back and let us know their thoughts via our online poll. The coming weeks will be crucial for the judges in assessing which museums make it onto the short list. The public’s participation has an important part to play.”

Michael Portillo chairs the expert judging panel comprising Professor Jim Al-Khalili OBE, theoretical physicist, author and broadcaster; Jeremy Deller, artist; Kathy Gee, museums and heritage consultant; Charlotte Higgins, Guardian journalist and author; Lars Tharp, Foundling Museum curator, broadcaster and Antiques Roadshow expert and Lola Young, Baroness Young of Hornsey, Independent Cross Bench peer and writer, cultural critic, public speaker and broadcaster.
The short list of four museums will be announced on 19 May 2011 and the winner on 15 June 2011.

Following from the success of the public vote last year, a poll for the 2011 Art Fund Prize will open tonight. Members of the public are invited to vote online at for their favourite long listed museum – and tell the judges who they think should win.

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