Museums in Iceland, Turkey and Spain have walked away with the top accolades at this year’s European Museum of the Year Awards.
Announced at a ceremony on 8 May in the new auditorium of the Gaia Centre at the Goulandris Natural History Museum in Kifissia, Greece, the awards – now in their 27th year – are organised by the European Museum Forum (EMF).
The Micheletti Award for the most promising technical or industrial award went to the Herring Era Museum at Siglufjordur in Iceland.
The museum has brought collections together from all over the country to document the history of the industry in two buildings – one an original salting station and the other a new building based on the first fish meal and oil factory in the town.
The Council of Europe Award went to the Trakya University Sultan Bayzid II Kulliye Health Care Museum at Edirne in Turkey.
The museum, housed in the hospital section of the Sultan Bayzid II Complex, boasts collections illustrating the work carried out in the hospital over the centuries, with a particular focus on mental health.
The third main award, the 2004 European Museum of the Year Award, was given to the Archaeological Museum of Alicante in Spain.
The museum is located in renovated buildings within the former San Juan de Dios Hospital complex.
The judges commented: “The collections have been displayed and interpreted in a way in which the judges feel can become a model for archaeological museums in Spain and much further a field, especially in the way it shows how an archaeologist works and what can be learned from this science.
“Differences in presentation are seen in every room and thus provide an element of surprise for the visitor, but as a whole the museum is in perfect harmony.”
Three other museums received diplomas of special commendation: The Swimming Pool at the André Diligent Museum of Art and Industry in Rubbaix, France; the House of Terror Museum in Budapest, Hungary and the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, UK.
The awards were announced by Sir Neil Cossons, president of the EMF and presented by Dimitrios Avramopoulos, Greece’s minister of tourism and a former mayor of Athens.
To be eligible for the awards, a museum must have been established within the last two to three years or, for older museums, have been completely reorganised within the same period.
Last year, the European Museum of the Year Award went to London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.
The EMF is responsible to the European Museum Trust, a charity registered in the UK and operating under the guidance of the Council of Europe.
As well as the yearly awards, the Forum also organises museum workshops throughout Europe and runs an advisory and consultancy service. Details: www.europeanmuseumforum.org