Art Fund doubles museums prize to lure visitors back

The Art Fund is to double the prize money for the Museum of the Year Award this time to £200,000 as part of a campaign for museums as they reopen following the pandemic lockdown.

The prize, normally £100,000 and already the biggest museum prize in the world, is to be awarded with the announcement of this year’s winner on October 12, divided equally between five winners, and during the following week there will be a programme of events, debates and social activity devised to encourage the public an opportunity to get involved when museums need visitors most.

Main image shows St Fagans National Museum of History in Wales, winner of the 2019 Art Fund Museum of the Year Award

“It’s exciting that we can begin to visit our inspiring museums again, but just because the doors are reopening it doesn’t mean they are OK” said the fund’s director, Jenny Waldman. “They can’t survive long-term with a fraction of visitors and they're continuing to navigate the huge challenges of Covid-19.

“This exceptional edition of Art Fund Museum of the Year will shine a spotlight on the incredible value museums bring to communities across the UK.”

There are around 2,500 museums in the UK, she said, featuring everything from art and design to science, military and industrial heritage, and natural and maritime history. They have a vital role to play in the recovery of the country, but even as they re-open across the summer and autumn their future is uncertain.

“While the immediate response of public and other funders and the UK government’s rescue package for culture is welcome, museums’ finances have been shattered by closures and by the social distancing measures currently in place” she said. “They still face huge challenges in the months and years ahead.”

The Art Fund has already announced grants worth more than £2m to support museums and galleries through reopening when many museums will be losing more money by opening their doors than remaining closed. It has launched a  fundraising campaign, #TogetherforMuseums

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