Ulster Museum wins top UK award
Published: 29 June 2010
The Ulster Museum has won one of the most prestigious museums prizes in the world - the coveted UK Art Fund Prize. At a special awards ceremony in London last night, the museum was presented with £100,000.
The Ulster Museum, which reopened in October 2009, following a £17.2m rejuvenation, faced competition from museums across England, Scotland and Wales and last month reached the final shortlist of four, along with the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford), Blists Hill Victorian Town (Shropshire) and The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum (Coventry).
The competition involved an online public vote as well as a rigorous judging process led by broadcaster Kirsty Young.
Tim Cooke, Director of National Museums Northern Ireland, said, “Rejuvenating the Ulster Museum in Belfast has been a deeply rewarding and purposeful experience coinciding with a remarkable period of change in Northern Ireland’s history. The public appetite for the new space and for engagement with our collections has been huge – as evidenced by the record visitor numbers and the massive level of support for the public vote element of the Art Fund Prize.
“I am grateful to all our visitors and supporters for their vital interest, to our funders, including the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and the Heritage Lottery Fund, to all National Museums Northern Ireland staff involved in the project and to the Art Fund Prize judges for all their time, care and enthusiasm. It is particularly humbling for us to be selected for this prize against such high calibre competition. I congratulate the Ashmolean Museum, Blists Hill Victorian Town and The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum for all their achievements. They are all outstanding projects in their own right.
Pictured above is Kirsty Young, Chair of the Art Fund Prize judges with Culture Minister Ed Vaizey and Tim Cooke, Director of National Museums Northern Ireland receiving the Art Fund Prize, click image to enlarge.
“We are delighted on Northern Ireland’s behalf. This is the first time in Northern Ireland’s 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”, said Mr Cooke.
Explaining how the Ulster Museum would spend the £100, 000 prize, Director Tim Cooke said, “We plan to devise a special programme designed to extend knowledge of, and engagement with, the Ulster Museum collections across Art, History and Science. Entitled “the Ulster Museum/Art Fund Prize Programme,” it will include partnership initiatives, internships, specific research, publications and web initiatives. The scheme will run for a two-year period.”
Pictured above are National Museums Northern Ireland staff at the Art Fund Prize winner’s announcement, click image to enlarge.
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. We were impressed by the interactive learning spaces on each level that are filled with objects which visitors are encouraged to touch and explore, and by how the museum’s commitment to reaching all parts of its community is reflected in the number and diversity of its visitors. The transformed Ulster Museum is an emblem of the confidence and cultural rejuvenation of Northern Ireland.”
Since reopening, the Ulster Museum has become Northern Ireland’s busiest visitor attraction with visitor numbers to date of over 420,000.
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