The annual award celebrates innovation and exceptional achievement in museums and galleries across the UK. The announcement was made by Stephen Deuchar, Art Fund’s Director, last night (Tuesday 1 May) via BBC Radio 4’s Front Row.
The Ferens Art Gallery, the only attraction in the north of England to be shortlisted, has seen a tremendously successful year. In 2017, it welcomed more than 519,000 people in a record-breaking year, as Hull celebrated being UK City of Culture. This 309 per cent increase in visitors represents the most successful year in the museum’s 90-year history.
Since its reopening after a £5.2m refurbishment, the Ferens hosted an array of critically acclaimed exhibitions including the world’s foremost contemporary art award, the Turner Prize – which was the second most visited Turner Prize exhibition to be held outside of London with more than 116,000 visitors. Other exhibitions included:
- Unveiling of Pietro Lorenzetti’s rare panel painting Christ Between Saints Paul and Peter (c.1320), purchased by the gallery and saved for the nation alongside four gold-ground panels from the National Gallery, London, which have never travelled together outside of the capital before, and a number of other important early Sienese loans
- SKIN, featuring works by world-renowned artists; Spencer Tunick, Ron Mueck and Lucian Freud
- 50th Open Exhibition: the most successful year with local artists work shown alongside world renowned art
- Francis Bacon: Nervous System, the first time that Bacon’s work has been exhibited in Hull and showing five of his Screaming Popes series
- A Rembrandt masterpiece on loan from The Royal Collection Trust as part of a five-year partnership
The other four museums shortlisted for the prestigious title are Brooklands Museum, Weybridge; Glasgow Women’s Library; The Postal Museum, London; and Tate St Ives.
The gallery is operated by Hull Culture and Leisure on behalf of the Council. Simon Green, Director of Cultural Services at Hull Culture and Leisure, said: “We are delighted and indeed honoured to have been selected as a finalist for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2018. To reach the shortlist is incredible and I would like to congratulate the other shortlisted museums on their achievements.
“To be in the running to win this accolade highlights the success of 2017, a truly transformational year for the city and gallery. It also recognises the hard work of everyone, our fantastic staff and volunteers, the Friends of the Ferens and Futures Ferens and the many visitors we welcomed over the year. I would like to thank each and every one of our loyal visitors, who have continued to support the gallery over the years.
“To reach the final five will continue the city’s national conversation and raise the gallery’s profile further.”
The winning museum, which will receive £100,000, will be announced at a ceremony at the V&A Museum on Thursday 5 July 2018. The other shortlisted museums will receive £10,000 each in recognition of their achievements. This year’s jury for the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2018 award, chaired by Dr Stephen Deuchar CBE, director of Art Fund, Ian Blatchford, director of the Science Museum Group; Rebecca Jones, BBC arts correspondent; Melanie Manchot, artist; and Monisha Shah, independent media consultant and Art Fund trustee.
Speaking on behalf of the jury, Stephen Deuchar, said: “Each one of these five finalist museums for the £100,000 Art Fund Museum of the Year 2018 prize has had an exceptional year. They are the engines of cultural development in this country – centres of innovation and pioneering new ways of engaging with the public. They represent the height of creativity and ambition – whether through the collections they display, the means by which they engage audiences or how they address the issues of the moment. I would encourage everyone to go and experience them at first hand.”
Matt Jukes, Chief Executive of Hull City Council, added: “This is a fantastic achievement for the city and I would like to congratulate everyone at Ferens Art Gallery. This places Hull in the spotlight once more with yet another validation of the amazing impact and success of the city’s focus on art and culture and of the professionalism of our team at Hull Culture and Leisure.
“I would urge everyone to get behind the Ferens to show their support, either via social media, submitting your supportive pledge or simply by visiting the gallery and enjoying its wonderful exhibitions.”