The new Shetland Museum and Archives is leading the 24 Hour Museum People's Vote. © Mark Sinclair, Phatsheep Photography
It's time to get voting in our People's Vote for the museum or gallery you think should win The Art Fund Prize in 2008. Go straight to the 24 Hour Museum People's Vote if you know who you want to win, or read on for more about the official prize.
Judging for The Art Fund Prize for Museums and Galleries is continuing apace, with the panel now having visited many of the ten longlisted institutions and venues.
The £100,000 prize aims to recognise the most innovative and successful project of the last year, be it a remarkable exhibition or an entire building.
To gauge public opinion on what’s hot on the longlist, 24 Hour Museum is holding its own People’s Vote. So if you were enlightened by the collection of spiritual texts in the British Library’s Sacred exhibition, or have rediscovered a love of contemporary art with the help of the redeveloped Pier Arts Centre in Orkney, we want to hear from you!
Votes are already coming in, and you can find out more about the longlisted museums and galleries on the voting page, where links to new articles on the museums and galleries are added weekly. The People's Vote will continue after the shortlist is announced in early April, so you can still have your say right up until the official prize announcement in Museums and Galleries Month (May).
The Caribbean Gallery, Breaking the Chains. © British Empire and Commonwealth Museum
Last year, the 24 Hour Museum received in excess of 3,000 votes in its people’s poll for the 2007 Gulbenkian Prize (even now, some people are still sending in their approving comments on the previously nominated museums and galleries), giving the contenders a good idea of how they were doing on the ground, apart from the official judging.
"The longlist is as impressive as ever: it's great to see local treasures like Devon's Topsham Museum alongside the passion and relevance of the International Slavery Museum," said Jon Pratty, Editor, 24 Hour Museum.
"We know people really love these museums - they've told us so when they vote - and we'd love to hear more about which museum or gallery you think deserves to win. We can't promise it will sway the judges, but it's what you think that counts in the People's Vote!"
From Sacred at the British Library. © British Library
So far, the favourite in our poll is Shetland Museum and Archives, which has gained high praise for its redevelopment.
“After several visits I still feel I have only scratched the surface of Shetland's history,” commented one voter. “This is a superb resource, for Shetlanders and visitors alike and is certainly the best local museum I have visited, anywhere.”
“Today I saw two men building a sixareen in the boat shed - a six-oared wooden fishing boat of huge dimensions - a design that has not been built at Hay's Dock for over a hundred years. Here it was going up board by board, right before my very eyes. Now that's really making the past come alive! It certainly has my vote.”
A life-size recreation of a Nigerian Igbo compound at the International Slavery Museum. © Jon Pratty / 24 Hour Museum
Next on the leader board are London Transport Museum, a well-loved venue given a new lease of life; and Lightbox, Woking, a brand new venue for heritage and visual art bringing novel joys to the people of Surrey.
“I would like to vote for the LT Museum as I think this is one of the best museums in the country,” said one voter. “The collection is magnificent, the setting is incredible and the interpretation is superb.”
And a young voter spoke up for Lightbox: “I would like to vote for the Lightbox because it is the first time we have had a museum or gallery like this in Surrey, and it is really cool. The people who work there are all really friendly and the photos and sculptures are great.”
There’s plenty to be said for the other seven longlisted museums and galleries, too, so why not go to the People’s Vote page to make your voice heard?
Voting will close on May 21, when the winner of the official 2008 prize is announced.
The longlist in full:
The British Empire and Commonwealth Museum, Bristol, for 'Breaking the Chains'
The British Library, London, for 'Sacred - Discover what we share'
International Slavery Museum, Liverpool
Lightbox gallery and museum, Woking
London Transport Museum
The National Army Museum, London, for 'Helmland: The Soldiers' Story'
The Pier Arts Centre, Stromness, Orkney
Shetland Museum and Archives
Topsham Museum, Exeter, for the River Gallery
The Wellcome Collection, London