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Craven Museum misses out on winning Art Fund Museum of the year 2024

The Skipton Town Hall team celebrate Craven Museum being a finalist in Art Fund MOTY a finalist

The museum lost to Young V&A Victoria and Albert Museum in London, but still picked up a £15,000 prize

Craven Museum at Skipton Town Hall has won £15,000 as one of five finalists for the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2024.

The overall winner, Young V&A – Victoria and Albert Museum in London, was presented with a prize of £120,000 by Vick Hope, a broadcaster and a judge for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2024, at a ceremony at the National Gallery in London yesterday evening (Wednesday, July 10).

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for culture, arts and housing, Cllr Simon Myers, said: “I am thrilled that Craven Museum is a finalist for the Art Fund Museum of the Year.

“This prestigious recognition highlights the hard work and dedication of the museum’s team and its vital role in our community. Being shortlisted among much larger institutions underscores the importance of cultural spaces like this in enriching our lives.

“Craven Museum has cross-party support from North Yorkshire Council and we are immensely proud of its achievements. We look forward to seeing it continue to inspire and engage. Congratulations to everyone involved.”

The authority’s head of culture and archives, Danielle Daglan, said: “We are enormously grateful to Art Fund for selecting us as finalists for this prestigious award - reaching this point and having our work recognised at a national level has been an incredible journey.

“Congratulations to the worthy winner Young V&A and heartfelt thanks to the Art Fund team for their support throughout, as well as to our incredibly supportive community and North Yorkshire Council.

“We hope our success as finalists inspires other small museums to aim high and encourages communities across the UK to support their local museums. We are very thankful for our finalist prize and look forward to using it to continue improving access to museum collections and experiences.”

Craven Museum is located in the Grade II-listed Skipton Town Hall, a modern multi-arts cultural hub on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. The venue also includes an exhibition gallery, historic concert hall, education and community spaces which all work with the museum to enrich and expand the cultural experiences on offer.

The museum was recognised as the Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum 2023 and Best Accessible Museum 2023. It was judged one of the top three museums for access out of more than 2,000 UK museums and heritage sites. Craven Museum programmed free or low-cost activities or events every day of the 2023 school holidays for families, in recognition of the current cost of living crisis.

Between 2022 and 2023, 115 artists displayed work in the museum's exhibition gallery, and eight community groups created displays in the community cases. The museum welcomed 156,391 visitors in the 2022 to 2023 period, an increase of about 56,000 visitors compared to the same period the previous year.

Art Fund annually shortlists five outstanding museums for Museum of the Year. The 2024 edition recognises inspiring projects from autumn 2022 through to winter 2023, with audiences and communities at their heart – with a particular focus on community engagement, sustainable ways of working, and demonstration of ambition by reinventing what it means to be ‘the best’ museum for the audiences of today and tomorrow.

Craven Museum was one of five finalists. The other finalists were Dundee Contemporary Arts in Dundee, Manchester Museum and National Portrait Gallery in London along with the winner, Young V&A – Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Each finalist receives £15,000. Together with £120,000 received by the winning museum, the total prize money for Art Fund Museum of the Year is £180,000, specially increased in 2023 to mark 120 years of Art Fund supporting museums.

The 2024 judging panel, chaired by Art Fund director Jenny Waldman, included Anupam Ganguli, the finance director for Historic Royal Palaces, broadcaster Vick Hope, artist Tania Kovats and Sir John Leighton, a former Director-General for the National Galleries of Scotland. The judges visited each of the finalists to inform their decision-making.

The prize is funded thanks to the generosity of Art Fund’s members who buy a National Art Pass. Pass holders enjoy discounts and benefits at the shortlisted museums and hundreds of museums and galleries across the UK, whilst also supporting Art Fund’s vital work in championing museums and preserving the country’s cultural treasures.

Jenny Waldman, the director of Art Fund and the chair of the judges for Art Fund’s Museum of the Year, said: “Young V&A is a truly inspirational museum. With a brief from its young co-designers to create ‘the world’s most joyful museum’, Young V&A has achieved that and more.

“I give my warmest congratulations to the fantastic team at Young V&A on being crowned Art Fund Museum of the Year 2024.”

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