Gulbenkian Museum Prize Shortlist Announced

By Jon Pratty, Editor, 24 Hour Museum | 17 March 2003
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Shows a photograph of Oliver Crimmen holding a flying fish by two of its four 'wings'.

Left: lunchtime at the Darwin Centre? Fish curator Oliver Crimmen with a four-winged flying fish (Cypselurus bahiensis). © Natural History Museum

Over one hundred entries were sent in for the inaugural Gulbenkian Prize for museums and galleries - and now four very different projects have made it through to the shortlist for the largest arts prize ever offered in the UK.

Right: 'Collections, Communities and Memories' was shortlisted for its part in making Rotherham's heritage accessible.

"Imagination, innovation, extending the very concept of the museum: these were our yardsticks," said Bamber Gascoinge, chairman of the judging panel.

The Gulbenkian Prize is also all about equality. The aim is encourage innovation and bring a new dynamism to the whole of the museum sector, from the biggest lottery-funded cutting-edge venues to tiny local volunteer-run museums.

Left: fun with the law at the Galleries Of Justice, Nottingham.

The shortlist shows this aim very well - projects still in the running for the prize range from a community local history training project in Rotherham to the Natural History Museum’s new showcase, the £30 million high-profile, high-tech natural Darwin Centre.

Also in with a strong chance of glory are a citizenship education programme in Nottingham and renewed displays at Captain Scott’s ship in Dundee.

Shows a photograph of a sound man wearing headphones and holding a big microphone. A female police constable is seated at a table with some paperwork in front of her.

Right: learning about right and wrong at the National Centre for Citizenship and the Law, Nottingham

Chair of judges, Bamber Gascoigne, comments: "we were choosing from an excellent and varied longlist. Among those falling at this hurdle were some superb state-of-the-art museum displays. But we are looking for museums moving beyond the best of current practice."

According to Gascoigne, the selected museums, although very different from each other, exemplify what the prize seeks to be about - "Rotherham takes the concept of the museum out to local villages. Nottingham uses the museum as a powerful social force in support of the curriculum."

"Dundee finds ways of making a single resource, the RRS Discovery, come more vividly alive. And the Darwin Centre lowers the barrier between scientists and the public, to the benefit of both. The next stage will be even harder for the judges. We have four worthy winners to choose from."

The shortlist in full:

  • Clifton Park Museum, Rotherham, for Collections, Communities and Memories - making Rotherham's heritage accessible
  • The Galleries of Justice, Nottingham for The National Centre for Citizenship and the Law
  • Discovery Point, Dundee for the RRS Discovery Renewal Programme
  • Natural History Museum, London for The Darwin Centre Phase One
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