- A Glasgow museum enticing teenagers through the doors with the help of new technology
- A community museum on the banks of the Thames
- A gallery bringing craft of international importance to the hills of North Wales
- A museum celebrating the history of the world’s finest ceramics
The short list is announced for The Art Fund Prize for museums and galleries 2009, the UK’s largest arts prize, worth £100,000. The four museums and galleries were selected following deliberations by a high profile judging panel including acclaimed film-maker David Puttnam and artist Grayson Perry. They are:
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow is short-listed for the second time in three years, this time for The Centre of New Enlightenment (TCONE), its new programme of educational events and experiences for young people. Research showing that Scottish school children have some of the lowest confidence levels in Europe inspired the Centre’s new hand-held technology guides which help young people enjoy and explore the museum’s collections. The judges said that the programme was original and infectious, and commended the way it gave young people the independence to explore Kelvingrove in an active way.
The renovation and restoration of Orleans House Gallery, Twickenham has transformed decaying buildings into a thriving and inspirational community hub for heritage, arts and learning, with regularly-changing contemporary and historical exhibitions alongside its permanent collection. The project has vastly-extended the audience for the Gallery, its exhibitions and activities which range from artists’ residencies, to work with vulnerable young people and work placements for Creative and Media Diploma students. The judges felt that this was an example of impressive achievement on a modest budget and commended the imagination and genuine passion of the Gallery’s team.
Ruthin Craft Centre: The Centre for the Applied Arts, Denbighshire is the most important gallery for contemporary craft in Wales. Its stunning new building has dramatically increased the space available for its rolling programme of contemporary crafts exhibitions drawing on major collections at home and abroad, and has provided new education space and craft studios. The judges were impressed by the excellence of the Centre’s exhibitions and publications programme and by the energy and enthusiasm of its small team.
Housed on the historic manufacturing site of Josiah Wedgwood and Sons Limited, the final museum on the short list is Wedgwood Museum, Stoke-on-Trent which tells the story of one of the world’s most iconic and recognisable consumer brands from the Industrial Revolution through to the modern wares we see on the high street today. Visitors see not just ceramics but a range of manuscripts, documentation, factory equipment, original models and fine art related to the 250-year-old world-renowned pottery company. For the judges Wedgwood Museum represented a collection and archive of national importance, beautifully and intelligently housed and displayed, yet with its roots firmly in its local place and community.
The short list represents the breadth of the UK’s museums and galleries sector, covering England, Scotland and Wales and featuring an independent trust museum and three, very different, local authority run institutions.
The winner will be announced on Thursday 18 June at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London.
David Puttnam, Chair of the Judges comments: "We are thrilled with the geographic and cultural diversity of what has emerged on the short list, with finalists around Great Britain and with museums and galleries both large and small. We will continue to enjoy the process of judging the prize and the difficult task of choosing a winner".
David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund, comments: “These four museums have made it to the shortlist because of their inspiring approaches to education, innovative ways to engage young people and general all round achievement and excellence. This exciting shortlist for The Art Fund Prize demonstrates once again the health and energy of the UK’s museums and galleries.”
The 2009 judging panel comprises:
- David Puttnam (chair) film-maker and educationalist
- Robert Crawford, outgoing Director General of the Imperial War Museum
- Sally Osman, communications consultant and former Director of Communications at the BBC
- Grayson Perry, Turner Prize-winning artist
- Mathematician and author Marcus du Sautoy
- Maggie Semple, Chief Executive of The Experience Corps
- Journalist and broadcaster Mary Ann Sieghart
This is the second year that The Art Fund, the UK’s leading independent art charity has sponsored this major arts prize, which is open to all accredited museums and galleries in the UK. The Art Fund Prize for museums and galleries recognises and stimulates originality and excellence in museums and galleries and aims to increase public appreciation and enjoyment of all they have to offer.
Last year’s winner was The Lightbox museum and gallery in Woking. Previous winners of the then Gulbenkian Prize include Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (2007), Brunel’s ss Great Britain, Bristol (2006), Big Pit: National Mining Museum of Wales, Blaenafon (2005), The Scottish Gallery of Modern Art for Landform by Charles Jencks (2004), and the National Centre for Citizenship and the Law at the Galleries of Justice, Nottingham (2003).
For more information please visit: www.artfundprize.org.uk