The Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology (MAA) has been announced as one of the ten finalists for the prestigious Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2013. Celebrating the very best UK museums and galleries, it is the largest arts prize in the UK. The prize aims to reward and highlight innovation and creativity in bringing objects and collections to life.

MAA tells the story of two million years of human history through one million objects – but the number of stories we have to tell are countless

Nick Thomas

MAA holds a world-class collection of art, artefacts and archaeological discoveries from around the world. For too long a hidden gem, it now makes its outstanding collections accessible to the broadest possible audiences, in original and imaginative ways.

As well as the £100,000 for Museum of the Year, MAA is also in the running for the Clore Award for Learning, an additional award of £10,000 which recognises achievements in learning programmes in UK museums. Both winners will be drawn from the ten finalists.

The ten finalists (in alphabetical order) are:

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead
The Beaney, Canterbury
Dulwich Picture Gallery, London
The Hepworth Wakefield, Wakefield
Horniman Museum & Gardens, London
Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow
Museum of Archeology & Anthropology, Cambridge
Narberth Museum, Wales
Preston Park Museum, Stockton-on-Tees
William Morris Gallery, London

MAA Director Nicholas Thomas said: “MAA is delighted to be shortlisted for the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2013. It gives us an invaluable and timely opportunity to tell the public about the transformation the Museum has undergone in the last year. We have changed from being a Victorian museum focused on supporting research, into a welcoming, beautifully-designed museum where young and old alike can experience our myriad treasures and astonishing stories.

“MAA tells the story of two million years of human history through one million objects – but the number of stories we have to tell are countless. These range from the mundane (a piece of whalebone used by Vikings as an ironing board) to the political (contemporary paintings about HIV in South Africa), from the amusing (a collection of what transpired to be ordinary garden stones) to the historically important (artefacts collected by Captain Cook on his first contact with the people of the Pacific).”

MAA will be holding a series of special events between now and the announcement. This includes a reception for local retailers and traders where will be shown objects in the museum relating to their trade: the local laundry will view the Viking ironing board made of whalebone, the staff from John Lewis will view old Robert Sayle shop fittings found in the Grand Arcade dig, and local tattoo parlours will view the first tattooing equipment collected by Captain Cook’s sailors in the 18th century.

The finalists were chosen by an independent panel of judges chaired by Art Fund director, Stephen Deuchar and including the Daily Telegraph’s arts editor Sarah Crompton, writer and broadcaster Bettany Hughes, historian Tristram Hunt MP and the artist Bob and Roberta Smith.

Stephen Deuchar said: “The quality and diversity of the UK’s museums and galleries is truly exceptional and the job of this prize is to draw attention to that. As the national charity for art, we hope that by shining a light on the ten finalists we'll encourage people to visit and celebrate these bright beacons of culture across the UK.”

The winner will be announced live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row from the award ceremony at the V&A museum in London on 4 June 2013.

All information about Museum of the Year 2013 and the Clore Award for Learning can be found at


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence. If you use this content on your site please link back to this page.