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Arnolfini - est 1961

We are thrilled to have been shortlisted for the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2016!

On Thursday night’s The Radio 2 Arts Show with Jonathan Ross on BBC Radio 2, the shortlist of five museums nominated for Museum of the Year 2016 was announced.

The shortlist includes Arnolfini and we are proud to be the only representative from the South West.

The other shortlisted contenders are:

– Bethlem Museum of the Mind, London
– Jupiter Artland, West Lothian
– Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), London
– York Art Gallery, Yorkshire


What’s Museum of the Year?

The Art Fund awards the Museum of the Year prize annually to one outstanding museum, which, in the opinion of the judges, has shown exceptional imagination, innovation and achievement. The prize of £100,000 is given at an awards dinner, before an invited audience of the UK’s museum and cultural leaders, which this year will take place at the Natural History Museum in London on Wednesday 6 July 2016.


Kate Brindley, Arnolfini CEO said:

“We are delighted to be nominated as a Museum of the Year 2016 finalist and congratulate the other organisations: we’re in good company. Arnolfini is incredibly proud to have the hard work of our team, the talent of our artists and the quality of our partnerships recognised by this important national programme.”

“Most of all, we are grateful to the people of Bristol for supporting us and inspiring us in our mission to create spaces where the culturally curious can come together and participate in contemporary arts and culture.”

“This award is a major boost for the organisation following a year of ambitious transformation at Arnolfini, and also for the city as a whole as we gear up to collaborate with Bristol’s cultural community to make the case to bid for European Capital of Culture. The Art Fund recognition has been a gift for Arnolfini and for Bristol.”


What did we do last year?

Arnolfini took 2015 as their year of rediscovery, marking 40 years of its presence in helping regenerate Bristol’s harbourside.

Embarking on an extensive programme of transformation, Arnolfini began to develop an audience-focused approach to programming, encouraging more of the public to directly participate in the development of the cultural narrative of their city. A new commissioned public artwork by internationally-renowned artist Richard Long, Boyhood Line, brought his work to a wider and unsuspecting audience, from picnicking families to commuters and dog walkers. We also secured a National Tour of John Akomfrah’s extraordinary Vertigo Sea, and launched the exhibition’s UK premiere in Bristol to widespread critical acclaim.

Significantly, last year we entered a new strategic partnership with the University of the West of England’s Arts, Creative Industries and Education faculty. Securing Arnolfini’s continuing occupation of a prominent historic building, this partnership sees us share space with degree students, studios, academics and the Centre for Moving Image Research. Arnolfini and UWE are working together to create a unique city campus at Bush House: a new kind of learning environment and enriched opportunities for the public to study and engage with contemporary art.

What happens next?

The judges for Museum of the Year 2016 are: Gus Casely-Hayford, curator and art historian; Will Gompertz, BBC Arts Editor; Ludmilla Jordanova, Professor of History and Visual Culture, Durham University; Cornelia Parker, artist; Stephen Deuchar (chair of the judging panel), Director, Art Fund.

In partnership with the BBC, the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2016 will be celebrated across the networks in a series of broadcasts and online.

The Museum of the Year will be announced at the Natural History Museum on Wednesday 6 July.

Listen to what happened when BBC Radio 2’s Sara Cox visited Arnolfini…

How can you get involved?


As part of his commitment to the Museum of the Year project, Rankin has judged a #Motyphoto competition – a public photography competition organised by the Art Fund, celebrating the five shortlisted museums. The shortlist of photographs of each of the five museums was announced and the public have voted.

Thanks to Colin Moody for this entry which was shortlisted for Arnolfini


We have launched a citywide campaign, using the hash tag #InspiredbyBristol and we invite you to participate in and contribute your own cultural experiences of the city. The best shots will also be included in Bristol 247 instagram spread.