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Lapworth Museum of Geology Shortlisted For Museum of the Year Award
The University of Birmingham’s campus museum of geology, the Lapworth, is up against Tate Modern for the Art Fund’s 2017 Museum of the Year award
The Lapworth and the Tate Modern are among five chosen establishments in the shortlist competing for the world’s largest prize for a museum, the winner of which will receive £100,000, with runners up receiving £10,000.
“'Each of these museums has had a remarkable year, reaching – in a range of ways – new heights in their efforts to serve and inspire their visitors'
The other three museums competing for the prize are the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art in Newmarket in Suffolk, the Sir John Soane’s Museum in London, and The Hepworth Wakefield.
The Lapworth Museum of Geology was founded in 1880, but was not open to the public until after its £2.7 million redevelopment, completed in June 2016. This redevelopment and expansion has allowed the museum to better exhibit its collection of over 250,000 specimens.
The Art Fund’s director, Stephen Deuchar, said, according to the Guardian, that there had been a record number of applications in 2017, which could be attributed to the thriving museum sector and, potentially, the changes in the prize money, which only this year introduced the runner up prize.
Deuchar added that ‘there was an amazing variety of museums which entered’. Four of the museums out of the final five have been shortlisted on the back of major capital projects including the Lapworth, which the Art Fund’s director said made ‘lumps of rock look sexy’.
Deuchar went on to say that ‘each of these museums has had a remarkable year, reaching – in a range of ways – new heights in their efforts to serve and inspire their visitors.
“'All the finalists have shown a real commitment to innovation and experimentation'
‘Whether unveiling new buildings, galleries, displays or public programmes, all the finalists have shown a real commitment to innovation and experimentation, offering fresh perspectives and new ways of seeing and understanding their collections’.
The prize, previously known as the Gulbenkian prize, has been sponsored by the Art Fund since 2008 and is a hugely prestigious and lucrative award for museums to win. Whilst last year's winner was the V&A, it is not only large museums that win the prize, however, as was demonstrated when the William Morris Museum in Walthamstow, East London won in 2013.
The winner will be chosen by a jury of artists, museum directors and DJ Jo Wiley, and will be announced at a ceremony at the British Museum on 5 July.