Taigh Chearsabhagh plays a central role in the community of North Uist, population 2000. Courtesy Taigh Chearsabhagh.
Back in January, the shortlist for the Gulbenkian Prize for Museum of the Year 2005 was announced. The ten museums on that list were all worthy contenders, ranging from the smallest museum of local social history to multi-million pound national developments.
While the judges were visiting the lucky museums, the 24 Hour Museum spoke to a representative from each of them – read about it here – and we asked you to vote in our readers’ poll for the museum you think should win the £100,000 prize.
The poll is now closed and it’s time to count up. The results are interesting, with a landslide vote of confidence going to one of the remotest museums in the country.
People have always been attracted to the landscape of the Hebrides, now Lochmaddy's museum and art gallery is drawing visitors to North Uist's culture.
An impressive 68 per cent of you said that Taigh Chearsabhagh, North Uist, is the most deserving museum, for its Carn Chearsabhagh project. The town of Lochmaddy has got a little diamond, you told us, which has involved the community in curating and given the locals something to be very proud of.
“I’m really pleased,” said Museum Outreach Officer, Caitriona MacCuish. “It gives us a real boost!”
The Carn Chearsabhagh project allowed members of the community on the weather-beaten Western Isle to curate their own exhibition of objects from the museum collection, which is stored on the neighbouring island of Benbecula for conservation purposes.
The readers’ poll result was announced as museum staff prepare for the third phase of the exhibition and the museum’s tenth birthday celebrations.
The Fitzwilliam developed its courtyard into a bright new space and put its collections online at the same time. Courtesy The Fitzwilliam.
In joint second place of our reader's poll came the Birmingham Back to Backs (West Midlands National Trust) and Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum for the Courtyard Development. They both received eight per cent of the vote, proving that all the hard work that went into being open for business in 2004 is being thoroughly appreciated by visitors.
The remaining seven museums were not far behind and visitor numbers confirm that they are getting the recognition they deserve. Locomotion: The National Railway Museum at Shildon has in particular exceeded expectation, drawing many more visitors than projected.
The world will find out shortly whether our poll reflects the Gulbenkian judges’ leanings, when the four finalists are announced on Tuesday, March 23. Informed of the 24 Hour Museum readers’ poll result, the judges declined to comment, keeping a tight lid on their decision.
To find out more about the Gulbenkian Prize, click on this link to visit the website.