The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts is one of the six finalists for the prestigious Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2014.
The Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year, awarded annually with a value of £100,000, was established in 2003 (formally the Gulbenkian Prize for museums and galleries 2003-2007) to recognise the very best of the UK’s internationally acclaimed museums. It has been supported by the Art Fund since 2008. Previous winners include the William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow, London (2013); the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter (2012), and the British Museum, London (2011).
The year 2013 was a standout year for the Sainsbury Centre coinciding with the 50th Anniversary of the University of East Anglia. This saw the opening of re-configured facilities designed by Foster+Partners including the largest temporary exhibition space in eastern England; a new East Gallery devoted to a complete redisplay of the Permanent Collection; flexible use of additional spaces devoted to modern and contemporary art; and a new shop, café and leisure area.
These new spaces were launched in September 2013 with the opening of the most ambitious exhibition in the Centre’s 35 year history; Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia. Celebrating the rich culture and artistic heritage of East Anglia the exhibition received national acclaim welcoming nearly 46,000 visitors, the highest attendance figure for a temporary exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre. The accompanying exhibition publication received the accolade of EDP-Jarrold East Anglian 2013 Book of the Year Award.
The six finalists were chosen by an independent panel of judges chaired by Art Fund Director Stephen Deuchar and includes Sally Bacon, Clore Duffield Foundation Director, Professor Michael Craig-Martin, Artist, Wim Pijbes, General Director of Rijksmuseum and Anna Somers Cocks, founder of The Art Newspaper.
Commenting on the news Paul Greenhalgh, Director of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, said:
“I am delighted that the Sainsbury Centre has been shortlisted for the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year Award 2014. The last year has seen all of our dreams realised with new facilities and the redisplay of our permanent collection. This and our most ambitious exhibition Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia has achieved all the goals we set ourselves: it has placed the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in the public eye, not only in the region but also nationally and internationally, as well as establishing us as a museum and art gallery with temporary spaces to rival the best on offer anywhere.”
Stephen Deuchar, chair of the judges, said:
"2013 was a strong year, by any standards, for UK museums and it was no easy task to select a shortlist of six from an extraordinary body of applications. It is almost as if imaginative and innovative curatorship, combined with the highest standards of presentation, is no longer the exception but the rule. No wonder that the international reputation of UK museums is riding so high, and we’re delighted that the Museum of the Year will salute this through both the process of the competition and, of course, the £100,000 Prize."
The six museums which have been selected as finalists for the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year are: Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, East Sussex; Hayward Gallery, London; The Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth; Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich; Tate Britain, London; and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield. The winner will be announced at a ceremony at the National Gallery in London on Wednesday 9 July 2014.
The Prize is also encouraging the public to show their support for their favourite museum by launching a photography competition and the Sainsbury Centre will be holding a photography workshop for budding photographers on June 7.
All information about Museum of the Year 2014 and the photography competition can be found at www.artfund.org/prize. Follow the conversation #MOTY2014