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Entries Now Open for Coveted 100,000 Pound Art Fund Prize
The Lightbox won the Prize in 2008. Photo: Peter Cook.

LONDON.- The Museum Prize Trust is calling for entries for next year’s coveted 100,000 Art Fund Prize for museums and galleries – the UK’s largest single arts prize. Submissions are invited from Monday 5 October 2009.

The Art Fund Prize for museums and galleries recognizes and celebrates originality and excellence. The prestigious annual award is open to all museums and galleries in the UK, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. This is the third year that The Art Fund – the UK’s leading independent art charity – has sponsored this major arts prize.

The winner and nominees will be chosen by an independent panel of judges – to be announced later in the year – comprising a mix of museum and gallery experts, artists, academics, journalists and well-known public faces.

Previous winners of The Art Fund Prize have benefited not only from the Prize money itself but from increased visitor numbers and public profile, leverage for other awards and partnerships with other organizations - both local and national.

The 2009 winner of The Art Fund Prize was the Wedgwood Museum, a new 10 million museum housed on the historic manufacturing site of Josiah Wedgwood and Sons. Owned and run by an independent charitable trust, it tells the story of this world-renowned 250 year old ceramics company. Gaye Blake-Roberts, Director of the Wedgwood Museum said of the Prize: “To have won is a great honor for the Wedgwood Museum Trust and Staffordshire, and we all feel very privileged that the new museum has received such acclaim and recognition. We also hope that the local economy will benefit from the national and international attention this award will bring with it.”

Penelope, Viscountess Cobham, Chairman of the Museum Prize Trust, said: ‘There are some fantastic projects opening during The Art Fund Prize year, and we want to encourage all eligible museums and galleries to apply for this very significant and important award.’

Marilyn Scott, Director of The Lightbox, which won the Prize in 2008, said: “Winning The Art Fund Prize was simply transformational for The Lightbox; there are many awards to go for but The Art Fund Prize has to be the Oscars of our industry, and from the moment we won we have never looked back. The phones started ringing and have literally never stopped - it was fundamental to the great success we have enjoyed since our opening.”

The closing date for entries is Monday 30 November 2009. More information can be found at

The Art Fund Prize long list of ten museums and galleries will be chosen in February 2010, and the short list of four will be selected in April. The winner will be announced during an awards ceremony in June. At shortlist stage, the public will be able to choose their favorite museum or gallery via an online poll; details of which will be announced early next year.

The single prize of 100,000 is awarded to the museum or gallery whose entry, in the opinion of the judges:

• demonstrates excellence, originality and imagination.

• has the capacity to promote wider public appreciation of museums and galleries and their collections.

• has clearly won the support and enthusiasm of its visitors and users.

• extends public understanding of works of art and objects of aesthetic interest, or demonstrates imaginative use of artists and designers to interpret collections.

• is likely to provide a lasting legacy.

Entries from across the whole range of museum and gallery activities are welcomed, including (but not restricted to):

• 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.

Previous winners have won for a broad variety of projects, ranging from educational projects to ambitious new buildings. Recent winners are:

• 2008 - The Lightbox museum and gallery in Woking, a community-initiated museum and gallery space that mixes local history, the visual arts and inspiring architecture.

• 2007 - Pallant House Gallery in Chichester for its 8.6 million modern gallery extension, designed by Long and Kentish in association with the late Professor Sir Colin St John Wilson.

• 2006 - Brunel’s SS Great Britain, Bristol, the world’s first great iron ocean liner.

• 2005 - Big Pit: National Mining Museum of Wales, a preserved coal mine
In addition to a check for 100,000, the winning museum or gallery holds, for one year, the enameled silver Prize bowl, commissioned from the artist Vladimir Bhm.

Museum Prize Trust | Art Fund Prize | Gaye Blake-Roberts | Marilyn Scott |

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