Museum of the Year: Tate Modern to race horse museum for £100,000 prize


Hepworth Wakefield (top left), Sir John Soane's Museum (centre), National Heritage Centre for Horseracing (top right), Tate Modern (bottom right) and Lapworth Museum of Geology (bottom left)Image copyright
Marc Atkins

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Hepworth Wakefield (top left), Sir John Soane’s Museum (centre), National Heritage Centre for Horse-racing (top right), Tate Modern (bottom right) and Lapworth Museum (bottom left)

Britain’s most popular contemporary art gallery and a new horseracing heritage centre are in the running to be named the UK’s Museum of the Year.

Tate Modern in London and The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art in Newmarket, Suffolk, are both nominated for the £100,000 award.

They are joined in the contest by the Hepworth Wakefield gallery and the Lapworth Museum of Geology, Birmingham.

Sir John Soane’s Museum in London completes the five-strong shortlist.

The Lapworth Museum of Geology

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Marc Atkins

This museum, operated by the University of Birmingham, re-opened last June after a £2.7m redevelopment that was designed restore it to its 1920s grandeur and create three new galleries.

It holds 250,000 specimens, ranging from dinosaur skeletons to volcanic rocks.

The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art

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Marc Atkins

Officially opened by the Queen in November, this complex is home to the National Horseracing Museum, the Fred Packard Museum and Galleries of British Sporting Art, and a yard for the Retraining of Racehorses charity.

It is also home to two of the Queen’s former racehorses and a virtual Clare Balding.

Sir John Soane’s Museum

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Marc Atkins

Housed in the former home of 19th Century architect Sir John Soane, this gallery and museum has completed a £7m restoration intended to open up “lost” areas and return it to how it looked when he died and left it to the nation in 1837.

That includes creating 33 per cent more space and putting 10 per cent more objects on display.

Tate Modern

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Marc Atkins

Seventeen years after it opened on London’s South Bank, Tate Modern had a record 5.8 million visitors in 2016.

That was partly down to the opening of a 10-storey extension, the Switch House, and exhibitions of photographs owned by Sir Elton John and artwork by Georgia O’Keeffe.

Hepworth Wakefield

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Marc Atkins

The West Yorkshire gallery celebrated its fifth birthday last year and saw a 21% rise in visitors.

It also launched a major new award for British sculpture and staged exhibitions by Martin Parr, Stanley Spencer and Anthea Hamilton.


The winner of the Art Fund Museum of the Year will be announced on 5 July.

Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar said: “Each of these museums has had a remarkable year, reaching – in a range of ways – new heights in their efforts to serve and inspire their visitors.

“Whether unveiling new buildings, galleries, displays or public programmes, all the finalists have shown a real commitment to innovation and experimentation, offering fresh perspectives and new ways of seeing and understanding their collections.”

Last year’s prize was won by the Victoria and Albert in London.


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