Art Fund judges' visit to the Polar Museum

The Polar Museum at Cambridge University's Scott Polar Research Institute, has been short listed for the Art Fund Prize 2011 – the £100,000 prize for the ‘Museum of the Year’.

This is a real tribute to the efforts of the very small team here.

Heather Lane, SPRI

Four museums across the UK have been short listed for the prestigious accolade out of a long list of ten. The single, £100,000 prize for the ‘Museum of the Year’ will be presented to the winning museum on 15 June.

The Polar Museum, University of Cambridge, has been selected for Promoting Britain's Polar Heritage – a major renovation of galleries and stores at the UK's only museum dedicated to the Polar Regions, their exploration and science.

The museum was established principally to preserve the collections relating to Polar exploration and – later – scientific research in the Polar Regions.

The museum holds some 10,000 objects, over 100,000 images and the world’s largest polar archive, comprising well over one million documents. Key items include Captain Oates’ sleeping bag and the last letters from Captain Scott’s Polar party to their families and friends. The museum is run by a total of seven staff, assisted by 15 volunteers. The renovation project cost £1.75m, of which £994,500 came from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Remaining funds were raised from a range of charities, funding bodies and individual donors.

Heather Lane, Keeper of Collections at the Polar Museum, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been short listed for the Art Fund Prize. This is a real tribute to the efforts of the very small team here, who have worked so hard to make the collections truly accessible. We have been particularly moved by the heartfelt comments from voters in the first round - it is fantastic to know that we have made such an impact in the short time that the museum has been open. We hope that everyone will support us again in the next round of the public vote.”

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