Kew Palace, home of George III and family in the early 1800s. © Historic Royal Palaces / newsteam.co.uk
The voting for the 2007 Readers' Poll for the Gulbenkian Prize is now closed
The shortlist for the 2007 Gulbenkian Prize for Museums and Galleries has been announced, but that doesn’t mean the 24 Hour Museum People’s Vote is over.
You can still submit votes for your favourite from the longlist of museums and galleries up for the Prize in the 24 Hour Museum Readers’ Poll. Thousands of people have shown their support so far, and the votes are still flooding in.
The official shortlist for the prestigious £100,000 prize has whittled contenders down to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow; Kew Palace, Richmond; Pallant House Gallery, Chichester; and Weston Park Museum, Sheffield.
Chichester's Pallant House Gallery now has a state of the art gallery extension. © Pallant House Gallery
How are these four doing in the online poll? Well, Kelvingrove is forging ahead with votes in the quadruple figures, and the others have all pulled in many hundreds in the virtual show of hands. The precise figures are staying a secret for the moment.
The other longlisted museums have also had a very healthy portion of the 3,000-plus votes - some of them more than the shortlisted museums. Do you think the judges are missing a trick? Add your vote into the mix and let us know what you think!
The Readers’ Poll has also given the 24 Hour Museum an insight into what people really think about all the museums and galleries in the running for the Gulbenkian. Some voters have waxed lyrical about their local museum, or the fantastic day they spent in an institution they’d never visited before. (Click on the museum/gallery links to find out more about how they got on the longlist.)
The Horniman Aquarium - enthralling for everyone. © Laura Mtungwazi
Voter Ajay Khandelwal had this to say about the Horniman Aquarium:
“The new aquariam is fabuluous - the fact that the viewing panels are heights for both children and adults to enjoy makes it wonderful for families - it is a humid and intimate place - and I can spend a whole afternoon gazing at the surreal sea horses and rich ink coloured frogs. And what a wonderful building - I love the grass roof.”
A young voter from a local primary school also enjoys the new aquatic feature:
“I would like to vote for the horniman museum because I like all the stuff in it, and I perfer the new Aquarium And the jellyfish are really nice because I like the way they swim across the warter. And the meseum has lots of stuff to do.
By Rachael lima age 8(nearly 9 years old)”
The minbar of Sultan Qa'itbay, made for a mosque in Cairo, now on show in teh Jameel Gallery. © Richard Waite
The V&A’s Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art also has a special atmosphere according to one visitor:
“The exhibits were very beautiful to look at and I felt a sense of peace and tranquility surround me as I walked around,” wrote Lubna Ul-Hasan. “I found the overall experience in the Jameel Gallery to be an immensely rewarding and enjoyable one. This definitely gets my vote!”
An anonymous voter praised Kew Palace thus:
“Kew Palace is a gem - the only royal palace on a small, human scale and the untouched areas have been a revelation. I also liked the interpretation.”
Sample of fabric designed by Graham Sutherland at Braintree's Warner Archive. Courtesy Braintree District Museum Trust
Braintree District Museum’s Warner Collection, Sheffield’s and the Pallant House extension all earned proud remarks from locals who had nothing but good things to say about the work of their local museum/gallery. The large pile of virtual votes that has come in for them reflects this, too.
“Braintree Museum is keeping alive the names of industries which made Braintree the town that it is today,” wrote Terry Fullbrook. “The youngsters of today can see the beautiful fabrics that Warners wove over the years, and how Courtaulds started. The older residents can say, ‘Yes I worked there’ and relive those days.”
BBC Education Correspondent Mike Baker also cast a vote for Braintree:
“The loss of the archive would have left a gaping hole in the district’s history – and its closure would have eclipsed an important slice of national history too.”
“Thanks to superlative efforts by the Braintree Museum the archive has not only been saved but has been returned to its rightful place in the company’s original, and architecturally significant, 19th century ‘New Mills’.”
The What On Earth Galleries at Weston Park showcase the city's famous natural history collection. © Sheffield Museums Trust
Pallant’s extension drew voter Louise Lee to call it “stylish, welcoming and just delicious”. An anonymous visitor said:
“A wonderful relaxing and intimate place in which to enjoy a wide range of fantastic art. I loved the combination of modern and historic buildings.”
Weston Park got the thumbs-up for being child-friendly:
“I'd like to vote for Weston Park, it's a wonderful museum and superb for children,” wrote Karen McCreanor. “My 3 year old and I have visited over 20 times since it re-opened last October.”
Voter Ann Lloyd noted how many children were enjoying the museum when she went there, though it was something else at Weston Park that made her day:
“They were all busy, drawing, dressing up, making hats, exploring the many peek-a-boo doors, and having a great time. … besides, they really do have wonderful scones in the cafeteria.”
Prostitution - What's Going On? A hard-hitting and important exhibition at the Women's Library. Photo © Rachel Hayward / 24 Hour Museum
The Women’s Library drew high praise for tackling a serious issue in its exhibition on prostitution and human trafficking.
“I think The Women's Library should win the prize as Gulbenkian Museum of the Year for the exhibition Prostitution - What's Going On?” wrote Jean Gooding, “because it has taken an issue that is not especially nice but one which needs thought and action, and displayed objects in a considered and powerful way.”
Another voter for the Library, Hannah Cooper, agreed:
“What a controversial issue to take on – and how well they have succeeded at presenting this heavily debated issue. I know no other museum or gallery that would take on such a contentious topic in this way.”
John Bannister lecturing on anatomy, part of the story of medicine in Scotland. © Glasgow University Special Collections
Comments about Scotland & Medicine raised a few smiles at the 24 Hour Museum. The partnership between medical collections in Scotland led to a touring exhibition, Anatomy Acts, that clearly attracted an audience the collections wouldn’t normally reach.
“I don't normally go to museums, I think they are boring,” wrote Mandy. “But, my boyfriend dragged me along to the Anatomy Acts exhibition and I absolutely loved it. I am thinking about my body and how to look after it now, and I'm sooooooooo glad I didn't live in the past. So this should be the winner It's COOL!!!!!!!!!!!”
David Healey sounded like he was a little surprised to enjoy the exhibition, too:
“Brilliant, and I'm not even a doctor!” he wrote.
Spitfire LA198, suspended from the roof of Kelvingrove's West Court. © Glasgow City Council (Museums)
Finally, our big vote-puller, Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, has drawn a lot of support from long-time locals who remember the museum as it was 50 years ago. Nostalgia has been eclipsed by wholehearted delight at the redeveloped museum and gallery.
Fiona Plumtree is certainly happy to endorse the refurb:
“I have know this museum since I was in school in the 1950s and 1960s. For most of this time it was to me a fairly stuffy place, and did not encourage me to become a museum enthusiast. I have just recently visited since its reopening and it has a completely different atmosphere, one of openness and light and encouragement.”
Voter Aileen Stewart, on the other hand, used to enjoy the Museum 20 years ago, but agreed it “cannot compare with the Museum as it is now”.
And watch out – you could find yourself in there for longer than you expected:
“I visited for the first time (my first visit to Glasgow, on business) this week,” wrote Priscilla Dawson, “and was originally going to 'pop in' to look at Dali's Christ of St John of the Cross.”
“According to the guidebook the other exhibits included armour and taxidermy - neither of which interest me - so I thought it would be a quick in and out.”
“How wrong I was! I left four-and-a-half hours later (I would have stayed longer but I had a plane to catch), having had the best museum/art gallery visit of my life.”