The Pitt Rivers Museum has been selected as one of five finalists for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2019, regarded as the most prestigious museum prize in the world. The annual award celebrates innovation and exceptional achievement in museums and galleries across the UK.
The other four museums shortlisted for the title are HMS Caroline, Belfast; Nottingham Contemporary; St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff; and V&A Dundee.
The winning museum, which will receive £100,000, will be announced at a ceremony at the Science Museum, London, on Wednesday 3 July 2019. The other shortlisted museums will receive £10,000 each in recognition of their achievements.
This year’s judging panel for the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2018 award, chaired by Stephen Deuchar, Director of Art Fund, are David Batchelor, artist; Brenda Emmanus, broadcaster and journalist; Bridget McConnell, Chief Executive, Glasgow Life; Bill Sherman, Director, Warburg Institute.
The Pitt Rivers Museum has been shortlisted for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2019 for its creative programmes of reinvention and reinterpretation, which show a much-loved Victorian space challenging perceptions and demonstrating the vital role museums can play in contemporary society.
2018 saw the Pitt Rivers welcome a record-breaking half a million visitors; deliver a range of powerful exhibitions, such as Kwibuka Rwanda, which told the story of survivors of the 1994 genocide and their attempts to come to terms with loss and trauma; start innovative partnerships with contemporary artists, such as young Tibetan photographer Nyema Droma; and launch an exciting collaboration with Maasai communities to change the narrative used by UK museums to display Maasai artefacts and tell Maasai stories as part of a living culture.
Using its collections of anthropology and world archaeology as a vehicle to debate social and political questions about common humanity, the Pitt Rivers is keen to be of personal relevance to every visitor and remains committed to engage in difficult conversations about problematic pasts and presents in order to forge less violent futures.
Dr Laura Van Broekhoven, Director of the Pitt Rivers Museum, said: “We are thrilled to have been shortlisted for the Museum of the Year Award, and to have the support of the Art Fund in showing how museum spaces like ours are relevant to the contemporary world. Every object in the Museum contains multiple layers of stories, which question conventional narratives, acknowledge challenging histories, and show the differences and commonalities that come with being human. With the help of the Art Fund, we can share those stories, invite new stories, and imagine new - less divided - futures.”
Speaking on behalf of the judges, Stephen Deuchar said: “The five shortlisted museums have each offered outstanding and different approaches to the vital task of engaging with the widest public in new and adventurous ways. We congratulate all those who are on the shortlist and encourage everyone to go and visit them.”
This year Art Fund is asking visitors to the five finalists to share their best museum stories, reviews, photos, memories and moments on Twitter using @artfund #museumoftheyear