The longlist for the Art Fund’s best new gallery prize has been whittled down to a shortlist of four – the Hepworth Wakefield, the newly refurbished Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, and the Watts Gallery in Surrey.
All four will now compete for the honour of being named the UK’s museum of the year, as well as the tidy sum of £100,000. The10th annual Art Fund Prize will be announced on the 19 June. Lord Smith of Finsbury, the Chair of the Judges, explained that ‘whittling 10 really strong nominees down to a list of four was a supremely difficult process, and I’ve no doubt that deciding on a ‘museum of the year’ from this list will prove equally tough: ‘The outstanding quality of the projects that we finally settled on, however, perfectly encapsulates the vitality and dynamism of a part of our nation’s cultural life that continues to innovate, push boundaries and engage the public, even in these straitened times.’
But surely everyone will be asking about the shortlist absence of major galleries such as Margate’s exceptional Turner Contemporary, Glasgow’s Riverside Museum and Bristol’s M Shed. When selected for the longlist, Victoria Pomery, Director of @TCMargate, was ‘absolutely thrilled’: ‘We’ve had an amazing first year with many thousands of visitors enjoying the gallery, programme and Margate’; ‘The great news today continues to demonstrate what an impact Turner Contemporary is having.’ Their absence in particular is strange given that they have so expertly nestled in with the big boy galleries – the Hayward’s etc – with a remarkable programme that includes exhibitions of J.M.W Turner himself, along with Margate’s most famous local/patron Tracey Emin.
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