The Ulster Museum, Belfast was announced by judge Kirsty Young as the 2010 winner of The Art Fund Prize
for museums and galleries.
Praised by the judges for its all-round excellence, the museum beat three other short-listed institutions, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; Blists Hill Victorian Town, Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry, to win the £100,000 Prize.
The Ulster Museum was awarded the £100,000 Prize at a reception at RIBA in London, in recognition of Opening up the Ulster Museum, a three year, £17.8 million project.
Tim Cooke, Director of National Museums Northern Ireland, said, We are delighted on Northern Irelands behalf. This is the first time in Northern Irelands history that a prestigious cultural prize of this nature has been awarded to an institution in the region. This prize will encourage us as we endeavour to play a meaningful role at the heart of our changing society.
Kirsty Young, Chair of the Judges commented: We were moved and invigorated by our visit to the Ulster Museum. Here is a museum that shows how much can be achieved, and one that is building a lasting legacy. The transformed Ulster Museum is an emblem of the confidence and cultural rejuvenation of Northern Ireland.
Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, commented: Ulster Museum is a brilliant example of a museum that is passionate about its public. But I must pay credit to all participants in the Prize; its been an extraordinarily strong year and a stirring reminder of the wealth of culture, history, beauty, life and science in museums across the UK. Everyone should get out there and visit as many as possible!
The Ulster Museum was also awarded with the enamelled silver Art Fund Prize Bowl made by craftsman Vladimir Bohm, which they can display for the next year.
The 2010 judging panel comprised:
· Kirsty Young (Chairman), broadcaster
· Kathy Gee, museums and heritage adviser
· Professor A C Grayling, Professor of Philosophy, Birkbeck College, London
· Professor J Steve Jones, Professor of Genetics, University College London
· Sally Osman, communications consultant and former Director of Communications, BBC
· Lars Tharp, Director, The Foundling Museum and BBC Antiques Roadshow expert
· Jonathan Yeo, artist
The £100,000 prize is annually awarded to the museum or gallery for a project completed in the last year, that the Judges deem demonstrates the most originality, imagination and excellence. The Prize, which has been sponsored by membership charity the Art Fund for three years, aims to increase public appreciation and enjoyment of the UKs museums and galleries.