Moss Side Asda to a tommies' military hospital: The Museum of the Year finalists, pictured by Martin Parr

By Culture24 Reporter | 27 April 2015

Reaction from the six finalists in the Art Fund's Museum of the Year, pictured by Martin Parr

Dunham Massey, Altrincham

A photo of two elegant beds inside a drawing room next to a wooden cabinet
Developed in 1916, the Thomas Splint drastically reduced mortality rates© Martin Parr
Stephen Adams, General Manager: “I didn’t believe 2015 could get any better, but it just has. Being a Museum of the Year finalist is a testament to the hard work, dedication and creativity of the team here.

In 2014, Dunham opened its doors as the Stamford Military Hospital in memory of the 282 ‘tommies’ who found an often all too brief sanctuary here from the horrors of the trenches.

The most ambitious project we have ever undertaken has led to a deep emotional engagement with the hundreds of thousands of visitors who have walked through the hospital and learned the stories of the men who came and the remarkable women who nursed them.

Previous generations of those who lived at Dunham have left their mark through its treasured collections, glorious gardens and great estate. Our legacy is to ensure its stories - like those of the Stamford Military Hospital - continue to inspire and engage.”

IWM London

A photo of a man looking at a smartphone on a stick next to a tank inside a museum
The Imperial War Museum London's main space reopened this year© Martin Parr
Diane Lees, Director-General: “We have had record number of visitors to our new, permanent First World War Galleries and transformed Atrium.

We created Lives of the First World War, a permanent digital memorial, where you can discover, remember and share individual stories of eight million men and women who served on the home  and fighting fronts.

We also lead the First World War Centenary Partnership, a network of  organisations from more than 50 countries worldwide who have joined together to remember and commemorate the centenary in a way that is meaningful to them.

We are honoured and delighted to be shortlisted. 2014 was a major year for IWM London, and a year in which we truly cemented our reputation as a world-class museum, shared the stories we are guardians of with millions of people across the world and continued the founding mission of the museum – to record toil and  sacrifice of all those affected by the First World War.”

Read our review of the reopened museum.

The MAC, Belfast

An overhead photo of people in a museum atrium under a ray of different colours
Visitors under the Permanent Present - the only permanent artwork at The MAC© Martin Parr
Anne McReynolds, Chief Executive: “It’s hard to believe that the MAC is only three years old. It has so quickly become a home for the arts in Northern Ireland, a shared and welcoming space that offers outstanding art for everyone.

Last year’s ambitious visual arts programme epitomises what the MAC stands for. It was a carefully considered balance between bringing important internationally renowned artists like Kara Walker to our audience, as well as creating a national profile for British and Irish Artists like Richard Gorman, Colin Darke, Peter Liversidge and Susan Connolly.

2014 ended with the first ever MAC International, an open submission exhibition that received more than 1,000 submissions from 30 countries, which firmly positioned the identity of the MAC in artists’ minds globally.

For us to receive this recognition from the Art Fund is hugely gratifying – it’s a real landmark for the arts in Belfast.”

Oxford University Museum of Natural History

A photo of a set of hands holding an ancient circular brown rock
Children get their hands on a dinosaur egg during a primary school workshop© Martin Parr
Paul Smith, Director: "After a year under wraps during the restoration of our glass roof and court, the museum reopened in February 2014.

We emerged from our chrysalis with more than just a fixed roof – after some creative experimentation during closure we reopened with a vibrant and revitalised public programme.

This encourages visitors of all ages to understand and engage with the natural environment, and sits alongside our world-class research and teaching.

The museum’s small team and our volunteers are delighted that this transformation has led to being named as a finalist.”

Tower of London

A photo of a hand in a black glove holding a red plastic poppy on a metal stick
Artist Paul Cummins made an installation from 888,246 ceramic poppies at the Tower of London
Michael Day, Chief Executive: “2014 was an extraordinary year for us. We marked the anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, as well as opening a new display exploring the stories of the Tower during the war.

We worked with the artist Paul Cummins and installation designer Tom Piper to create a stunning display of 888,246 ceramic poppies in the Tower’s moat that truly captured the imagination of people not only nationally but globally.

Over the past 1,000 years the Tower of London has been at the heart of our history. To be able to reach out to new audiences and generations at such a significant time was remarkable.”

Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester

A photo of a brown brick museum with glass upper windows next to some plants
Manchester's Whitworth Art Gallery returned in style this year© Martin Parr
Maria Balshaw, Director: “When we reopened, on February 14, we asked visitors to ‘Fall in Love Again’ with the Whitworth.

With 130,000 visitors in two months, we have exceeded all our hopes for our new building.

Our period of closure allowed us to develop programmes and partnerships that have taken the gallery to people we would have never reached: from locals at Moss Side Asda, to the crowds at Manchester’s best pubs, to city centre shoppers at Selfridges.

Being shortlisted is a huge honour. Thank you to all visitors, old and new, who have come with us on this journey of transformation.”

Read more from Maria.

  • The winner of the £100,000 award will be announced on July 1 2015 at Tate Modern.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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