The nominees for the Museum of the Year

By | Category: Travel news

Late last week the nominees were announced for the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2019.

The V&A Dundee and my tip as the winner. Image © Hufton Crow

As readers will know, the winner gets £100,000 with each of the other short-listed museums and galleries getting £10,000,

The nominees this year are the new V&A in Dundee, St Fagans National Museum of History in Cardiff, HMS Caroline in Belfast, the Nottingham Contemporary and the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford.

Given previous winners it would see that the judges tend to gravitate towards either new museums or those that have undergone substantial refurbishment so bookies would probably say that the V&A Dundee or St Fagans would be the favourites.

The V&A in Dundee which opened in the autumn last year has already seen 550,000 visitors pass through its doors in the first seven months. That has had a knock-on effect locally with visitors staying on to see other attractions in the city and the locality as well.

A wall painting in St Teilo’s Church which has been transplated to St Fagans

St Fagans National Museum of History, which is on the outskirts of Cardiff, was the UK’s first national open air museum when it opened in 1948. Today it includes buildings (about 44 at present but more on the way) painstakingly removed from many parts of Wales including a workmen’s institute building from Oakdale that I used to be taken to when I was a kid. Each time I visit there seems to be another building Again, St Fagans has undergone a big refurbishment programme which ended in 2018.

HMS Caroline is a cruiser from WWI which is moored in Titanic Quarter in Belfast. She was in an unloved state when I first visited her in 2012 and I wondered for her future. There was talk of moving her to Portsmouth or even scrapping there back then. She survived those lean time to have restoration work completed and was opened to the public in 2016

HMS Caroline (January 2012) when I first saw her

Nottingham Contemporary celebrates its tenth birthday this year and is built on the site of a Saxon fort. As an arts centre, the range of events and exhibitions that it provides to the city is wide and, as its name suggests, is modern-oriented.

Unlike Nottingham Contemporary, the Pitt-Rivers in Oxford dates back to 1884 in the heyday of Victorian interest in antiquities and anthropology. Pitt-Rivers was the first Inspector of Ancient Monuments and his collection formed the basis of the museum. Now this 135 year-old museum is anything but stuck in the past. The latest exhibition – which opened yesterday – is about the Calais Jungle, that campsite of people who were trying to get into the UK and which was closed by the French government in 2016.

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