Judges for the prestigious Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017 award, the world’s largest prize for museums, visited Birmingham’s Lapworth Museum of Geology today (Monday 12 June) for an exclusive, interactive tour.
One of five finalists in the running for the award, the University of Birmingham’s Lapworth Museum, hosted the judges, who include Professor Richard Deacon CBE, Dr Hartwig Fischer, Munira Mirza, and Jo Whiley, as well as Art Fund’s Director Stephen Deuchar.
The judges were treated to an exclusive tour of the museum, which is home to one of the UK’s most important geological collections, and presented with their own 3D printed replicas of the famous Dudley Bug - a 428 million year old trilobite.
From diamonds to dinosaurs; the museum which is free of charge, inspires and engages the public with treasures from the natural world. The museum also provides sessions in an interactive educational room for groups of school children.
Jon Clatworthy, Director of the Museum, said: “It was a pleasure to host the judges today and to showcase the breadth and diversity of the geological collections the Lapworth has to offer. Our visitors can walk through time at the Lapworth and gain unique insight into 4.5 billion years of history through digital technologies and interactive displays.
“The last year has been truly transformative for us with a major redevelopment project propelling the museum into the 21st century and making it accessible to a diverse new audience. We believe that this interface between academic research in geology and the general public is truly unique and we are honoured to be recognised by the Art Fund.”
The winning museum, which will receive £100,000, will be announced at a ceremony at the British Museum on Wednesday 5 July 2017.
For more information, please contact Samantha Williams, University of Birmingham, +44 (0) 121 414 3984 | +44 (0) 7812671797
The Lapworth Museum of Geology, Birmingham
Dating back to 1880, The Lapworth Museum of Geology is one of the leading geological museums in the UK, with the largest collection of its kind in the Midlands. The museum re-opened in June 2016 after a £2.7 million redevelopment and expansion which transformed an academic university museum into a major new public attraction for Birmingham and beyond. It has helped bring to life internationally-significant scientific collections of over 250,000 specimens, ranging from dinosaur skeletons to volcanic rocks. The Museum’s core is now restored to its original 1920s grandeur and three new galleries have been unveiled, while beautifully designed, interactive displays and new visitor facilities have been created, including a state-of-the-art education room. Since re-opening, the museum has expanded its volunteer programme, diversified its audiences and education offering, and doubled visitor numbers.
The Lapworth Museum of Geology hosts a famous example of a 428 million year old trilobite fossil known as the Dudley Bug. Trilobites were extinct animals that lived in the oceans and looked like giant versions of modern woodlice. This trilobite has the scientific species name Calymene blumenbachii, and was found in the limestones around Dudley. The example held by the Lapworth is the most important ever discovered, as it was the specimen that was used to scientifically define and name the species.
Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. In the past five years alone Art Fund has given £34 million to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections. It works with over 700 museums and galleries across the UK and helps museums share their collections with wider audiences by supporting a range of tours and exhibitions, including ARTIST ROOMS, and makes additional grants to support the training and professional development of curators.
Art Fund is independently funded, with the core of its income provided by 123,000 members who receive the National Art Pass and enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions. In addition to grant-giving, Art Fund’s support for museums includes the annual Art Fund Museum of the Year, a publications programme and a range of digital platforms.
About Art Fund Museum of the Year
Art Fund has supported Museum of the Year since 2008. Its forerunner was the Prize for Museums and Galleries, administered by the Museum Prize Trust and sponsored by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation from 2003-2007. The prize champions what museums do, encourages more people to visit and gets to the heart of what makes a truly outstanding museum. The judges present the prize to the museum or gallery that has best met some or all of the following criteria:
- Undertaken projects that will provide a lasting legacy or have a transformative effect on the museum
- Brought its collections to life for audiences in exceptional ways – engaging, inspiring and extending public understanding
- Delivered an innovative programme of audience development, learning or outreach
- Clearly won the support and enthusiasm of its visitors and users.
Winners over the past six years were the V&A (2016), The Whitworth (2015), Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2014), William Morris Gallery (2013), Royal Albert Memorial Museum (2012) and the British Museum (2011).