Art Fund Prize - Museum of the Year

The purpose of The Art Fund Prize (formerly the Gulbenkian Prize) for museums and galleries is 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.

A single award of £100,000 is presented to a museum or gallery whose entry, in the opinion of the judges, best meets the Prize criteria through a project completed or mainly undertaken in the previous calendar year.

Finalist awards

For the first time in 2017, the funder is e giving awards to all 2017 finalists – not just the winner. Each organisation on the shortlist will receive a £10,000 prize in recognition of their achievements following the ceremony on 5 July.

Apply

Before You Start

The Art Fund is a registered charity based in London that provides support to UK museums, galleries and historic houses.

The purpose of The Art Fund Prize (formerly the Gulbenkian Prize) for museums and galleries is 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.

The Art Fund Prize is an annual competition offering a single £100,000 cash prize to the organisation that has demonstrated excellence, originality and imagination throughout the year.

Applications can cover a broad range of museum or gallery activities, including:

  • New exhibitions, buildings or refurbishments.
  • Significant acquisitions, their interpretation and use.
  • Education, audience development and outreach work.
  • Collection conservation projects involving the public.
  • Imaginative use of new technology.
  • Initiatives that engage with contemporary issues.

Restrictions

Only one entry per museum or gallery is permitted. Where an organisation operates several museums and galleries, they may submit an entry for each, but no more than one site can be included on the judges' long list of applicants.

What You Need To Know

Key Criteria

The Prize is open to all museums and galleries in the United Kingdom.  The Trustees normally expect applicants to be participants in the accreditation scheme operated by Arts Council England.

Exceptions will be considered where organisations are in the public sector, or have charitable status, and whose activities are based on the care and interpretation of collections of historical, artistic or scientific interest.  The Trustees' decision on eligibility is final.

Applicants must be open for at least half the week at least six months of the year.

Only one entry may be submitted per individual museum or gallery.  Where an organisation operates several museums and galleries, an entry may be submitted for each, but in drawing up the long-list, judges will not select more than one entry from the same multi-site service. Museums can enter in consecutive years but a museum that has won cannot apply for another three years after the year of winning.

Entries may be submitted on behalf of collaborative projects between one or more organisations, but the entrant will be taken to be the lead museum or gallery 'in association with' its partners.

Match Funding

Match funding is not a specified requirement.

Eligible Expenditure

The single award of £100,000 will be presented to the museum or gallery whose entry, in the opinion of the judges, has best met some or all of the following criteria:

  • undertaken projects that will provide a lasting legacy or have a transformative effect on the museum;
  • demonstrated excellence, innovation and imagination;
  • brought its collections to life for audiences - engaging, inspiring and extending public understanding;
  • delivered an original learning and outreach programme; and
  • clearly won the support and enthusiasm of its visitors and users.

Specific projects or achievements which could be drawn out in the application can include (but are not restricted to):

  • new exhibitions, collection displays, buildings or refurbishments;
  • significant acquisitions, their interpretation and use;
  • education, audience development and outreach work;
  • learning programmes that develop the skills, knowledge, values and enjoyment of children and young people;
  • collection conservation projects;
  • imaginative use of new technology or digital media; or
  • substantial programmes of modernisation, reorganisation or reinterpretation that have had a transformative effect.

How To Apply

Interested applicants should submit:

  • an application form, available from the sponsor's website
  • an endorsement of application from the museum or gallery director
  • six high-quality photographs of the museum
  • a film or self-playing Powerpoint presentation of approximately three minutes in length that will demonstrate to the judges why your museum should be considered for the Prize.

Contact the Art Fund for further information.

Application forms are available from the sponsor's website.

Key dates:

  • 12 December 2016 – applications open
  • 7 February 2017 – applications close
  • Late April 2017 – announcement of finalists
  • 5 July 2017 – Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017 award ceremony