Finalists launch Twitter and Facebook pleas to kick off annual Art Fund Prize longlist campaign

By Culture24 Staff | 04 February 2011
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A photo of a Mayor in a suit, a woman and a small boy cutting a purple ribbon as the doors open to a historic house in an official ceremony
The year-long, £1 million effort to revitalise the Hertford Museum has been rewarded with a place on the Art Fund Prize 2011 longlist
In a competition where embracing the digital age is vital to victory, the ten finalists for this year’s Art Fund Prize are already putting the power of Twitter and Facebook to vote-winning effect as the battle lines are drawn for the industry’s flagship award.

Ten venues were announced on the longlist by head judge Michael Portillo earlier this week, with many rewarded for specific projects – the British Museum’s A History of the World  and the Polar Museum’s finesse at promoting the country’s glacial heritage both look strong.

Developments and embellishments consume the rest of the chosen few, acknowledging the Victoria and Albert Museum’s encyclopaedic Ceramics Study Galleries, Bath and North East Somerset Council’s five-year project to renovate The Roman Baths and the extension of the new-look Mostyn gallery in Llandudno.

A photo of a still bath under towers and ancient Roman columns. Steam is rising from the clear water
The Roman Baths have reopened in spectacular style after a £5.5 million project
The £21 million Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Scotland and the new People’s History Museum in Manchester cap their openings with the chance of immediate glory, joined by development and reopenings at the Hertford Museum, Leighton House in London and the Yorkshire Museum.

“The judges said in their report that they were impressed by the ambition and originality shown by our application,” revealed Janet Barnes, the chief executive of York Museums Trust, which oversaw the £2.2 million project resulting in axe-wielding galleries on Roman York, Medieval York and Extinct.

"Almost 40 museums and galleries applied this year, so it is a fantastic achievement to get this far and a testament to everyone who worked so hard on the project."

Online voting has already opened, with the four hopefuls who can lobby most fervently likely to make the final cut on May 19.

“It’s the museum equivalent of the Oscars,” the Burns Birthplace Museum told its fans.

“We are the only Scottish museum on the list and up against some long-established museums like the V&A and the British Museum, so we need your support.”

A photo of a low museum with a bricked wall and a wooden building on flat, neatly-cut grass under a light blue sky
The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum opened in Ayrshire in December 2010© Robert Burns Birthplace Museum
The People’s History Museum used its Twitter page to claim an early lead in the poll, urging supporters to mark its card. In the Mostyn corner, one voter was less ebullient.

“There are some giants in the running,” they told the venue’s Facebook page. “Hey ho – fingers crossed.”

The public vote cannot directly affect the destination of the £100,000 prize, but Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar emphasised its influence.

“We hope people will go and be inspired by these spectacular projects, and that they’ll come back and let us know their thoughts via our online poll,” he said.

“The coming weeks will be crucial for the judges in assessing which museums make it onto the shortlist. The public’s participation has an important part to play.”

Visit artfundprize.org.uk to vote, and follow the Art Fund Prize on Twitter


Full longlist:

  • British Museum, London A History of the World
  • Hertford Museum, Hertfordshire Hertford Museum's Development Project
  • Leighton House, London Closer To Home: The Restoration and Reopening of Leighton House Museum
  • Mostyn, Llandudno, Wales Refurbishment and extension of Mostyn gallery
  • People's History Museum, Manchester The new People's History Museum 2010
  • Polar Museum, University of Cambridge Promoting Britain's Polar Heritage
  • The new Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Alloway, Scotland
  • Roman Baths Museum, Bath Roman Baths Development
  • V&A, London Ceramics Study Galleries
  • Yorkshire Museum, York Letting in the Light - Revitalising the Yorkshire Museum for the 21st century
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