The Pitt Rivers Museum has been shortlisted for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2019, considered to be the most prestigious museum prize in the world. The prize is awarded annually to a museum or gallery in the UK for a “track record of imagination, innovation and excellence”.
The winning museum will receive £100,000 in funding while the other shortlisted museums will receive £10,000 each.
Pitt Rivers Museum is famous for its collections of anthropology and world archaeology which it uses as a tool to debate social and political questions, engaging in difficult conversations about controversial pasts and presents. Last year, the museum welcomed a record-breaking 502,000 visitors.
In 2018, the museum saw a number of innovative programmes, including ‘Hope’ which explored the collection’s colonial past, ‘Making’ that examined the link between making objects and health and ‘No Binaries’ which invited queer responses to the museum’s collections. The exhibition, Kwibuka Rwanda, told the story of survivors of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, raising awareness of the way Rwandans commemorated and memorialised their dead.
The museum, furthermore, started innovative partnerships with contemporary artists, such as Tibetan photographer Nyema Droma. It also launched a collaboration with Maasai communities to transform the narrative used to tell Maasai stories and the way Maasai artefacts are presented in British museums.
Four other museums that were shortlisted for the award are HMS Caroline, Belfast; Nottingham Contemporary; St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff; and V&A Dundee.
The judging panel for this year’s Art Fund Museum of the Year award is chaired by Stephen Deuchar, Director of Art Fund, with others including David Batchelor, artist; Brenda Emmanus, broadcaster and journalist; Bridget McConnell, Chief Executive, Glasgow Life; Bill Sherman, Director, Warburg Institute.
Dr Laura Van Broekhoven, Director of the Pitt Rivers Museum, said: “We are thrilled to have been shortlisted for the Museum of the Year Award, and to have the support of the Art Fund in showing how museum spaces like ours are relevant to the contemporary world. Every object in the Museum contains multiple layers of stories, which question conventional narratives, acknowledge challenging histories, and show the differences and commonalities that come with being human. With the help of the Art Fund, we can share those stories, invite new stories, and imagine new – less divided – futures.”
The winning museum will be announced at a ceremony at the Science Museum, London, on Wednesday 3 July 2019.
Image Credit: John Kannenberg