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Manchester Museum down to the final five of ‘the world’s biggest museum prize’

Manchester Museum is in the running for one of the world's largest museum prizes.
Art Fund Museum of the Year 2024 Manchester Museum

Manchester Museum has been announced as one of five finalists for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2024, the world’s largest museum prize.

And after a fanfare opening with queues around the block, world-renowned exhibitions, and over a million visitors since it re-opened; we can’t say we’re surprised.

Manchester Museum finalist for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2024

Art Fund Museum of the Year 2024 Manchester Museum

The news comes at a good time for Manchester Museum, which recently welcomed its one-millionth visitor since reopening to the public in February last year, following a £15 million values-led redevelopment.

It was the most visited indoor museum in the north of England during 2023, despite being open for less than 11 months, with 790,332 people walking through the doors during the calendar year.

Art Fund annually shortlists five outstanding museums for Museum of the Year.

The 2024 edition of the Art Fund Museum prize recognises inspiring projects from autumn 2022 through to winter 2023, with audiences and communities at their heart – with a particular focus on community engagement, sustainable ways of working, and demonstration of ambition by reinventing what it means to be ‘the best’ museum for the audiences of today and tomorrow.

Manchester Museum has had a real focus on showcasing all communities across Manchester, opening the South Asia Gallery, which is dedicated to the experiences and histories of South Asian diaspora communities.

It is the first permanent gallery in the UK to celebrate the experiences and contributions of the South Asian diaspora, co-curated with 30 inspiring community members from across the South Asian diaspora.

It has received great praise across the board for telling untold and unrepresented stories.

Manchester Museum Director Esme Ward

Esme Ward, Manchester Museum

Manchester Museum Director Esme Ward said: “Manchester Museum’s redevelopment was the result of 10 years’ collective endeavour so being shortlisted for Art Fund Museum of the Year is a moment of joy for everyone to share in, from staff and partners to our communities and Manchester itself.

“It is an affirmation of museums’ power to bring people together in building a more inclusive, hopeful future.”

Manchester Museum, part of The University of Manchester, is one of the largest university museums in the UK.

Built on values of inclusion, imagination and care, the Museum has undergone a transformation designed to bring communities together and build understanding between cultures.

As part of this, a £15 million redevelopment, ‘hello future’, was completed in February 2023.

The project included new galleries, partnerships, visitor facilities, sector-leading programming and collections practice and digital innovation.

Visitor numbers for the first year following reopening were up 157 per cent on 2019/20, with 57 per cent of those visitors new to Manchester Museum and more than one in seven (15 per cent) visiting a museum for the first time.

Which other museums were nominated?

The other four shortlisted museums are Craven Museum (Skipton, North Yorkshire); Dundee Contemporary Arts (Dundee); National Portrait Gallery (London); Young V&A – Victoria and Albert Museum (London).

The winning museum will be announced at a ceremony at the National Gallery in London on 10 July and will receive £120,000.

£15,000 will be given to each of the four other finalists – bringing the total prize money to £180,000.

Who is on the judging panel?

The 2024 judging panel, chaired by Art Fund director Jenny Waldman, includes: Anupam Ganguli (Finance Director, Historic Royal Palaces), Vick Hope (broadcaster), Tania Kovats (artist) and Sir John Leighton (former Director-General, National Galleries of Scotland).

The judges will visit each of the finalists to inform their decision-making, while each museum will make the most of being shortlisted over the summer through events and activities for new and current visitors.

Speaking on behalf of the judges, Jenny Waldman, Director, Art Fund said: “Congratulations to Manchester Museum on being shortlisted for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2024.

“Each of our finalists truly has something for everyone and all have community at the very heart of their programming. Their commitment to innovative partnerships whilst operating within an extremely challenging funding environment is incredible, and I’m so pleased to see the way they support and centre young people through their work.

“Across a wide range of size and scale, these organisations are all real leaders in their field. I urge everyone to go and visit these extremely special spaces.”

You can find out more about what’s going on at Manchester Museum by clicking here

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