Thackray Museum of Medicine has been selected as one of the five finalists for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2021, the world’s largest museum prize.

The other four shortlisted museums are:

Centre for Contemporary Art, Derry~Londonderry

Experience Barnsley, Barnsley

Firstsite, Colchester

Timespan, Helmsdale

Nat Edwards, Chief Executive of Thackray expressed his joy at being shortlisted for the award, remarking: “When I heard that we were finalists for the Art Fund Museum of the Year, I thought it was a fabulous surprise. Then I looked at all the incredible people and communities I work with and how they have all pulled together during such an impossible time, and I realised it wasn’t a surprise at all. They are amazing. Our museum is amazing. Now making the final for the Museum of the Year is going to help us tell a lot more people that.”

After recently completing a 4.1 million pound redevelopment, Thackray Museum of Medicine exists to inspire communities and visitors with the story of medicine. It played a crucial role in the pandemic, becoming the first museum in the UK to transform into a vaccine hub. Now open, the museum delivers a programme of talks, tours, family activities, research and learning addressing issues in modern day healthcare, alongside 11 new galleries that reveal the innovations that have changed our lives.

Art Fund annually shortlists five outstanding museums for the Museum of the Year prize.  The 2021 edition reflects the resilience and imagination of museums throughout the pandemic. At this moment of museums re-opening and starting their recovery, the 2021 prize highlights and rewards the extraordinary ways in which museums have, over the past year, served and connected with their communities.

The winning museum will be announced at a ceremony in September and will receive £100,000.  The other four shortlisted museums will each receive £15,000 in recognition of their achievements.

The members of this year’s judging panel, chaired by Art Fund Director Jenny Waldman, are: Maria Balshaw, director of Tate and chair of the National Museum Directors’ Council; Katrina Brown, director of The Common Guild and Art Fund trustee; Edith Bowman, broadcaster; Suhair Khan, strategic projects lead at Google; and artist Thomas J Price.


Media enquiries:

Jane Quinn/Dennis Chang, Bolton & Quinn +44 (0) 20 7221 5000, [email protected] or [email protected]

Ruth Findlay, Art Fund +44 (0) 20 7225 4840, [email protected]

Download press images: Art Fund link to follow

Notes to Editors:


Jenny Waldman (Chair)

Formerly Director of 14-18 NOW, the UK’s official arts programme for the First World War Centenary, Jenny joined Art Fund as Director in May 2020. At 14-18 NOW she oversaw a programme of commissions of over 100 new works from leading UK and international contemporary artists including Jeremy Deller, Peter Jackson, John Akomfrah, William Kentridge, Susan Philipsz, Yinka Shonibare CBE and Rachel Whiteread. Prior to this she was Creative Producer of the London 2012 Festival and Public Programmes Consultant to Somerset House Trust. Jenny is Chair of Trustees of Artangel and a member of the Barbican Centre Board. She was awarded a CBE in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to the arts.

Maria Balshaw

Maria Balshaw is Director of Tate, a role she has held since June 2017. She has overall responsibility for Tate’s strategic direction and day-to-day operations. She has worked to reframe the context and perspective of this long-established institution to engage with sensitive times, furthering the mission of inclusiveness and equality to connect with a wider audience. As Director, Maria is also the Accounting Officer appointed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Previously, Maria was Director of the Whitworth, University of Manchester; Director of Manchester City Galleries; and Director of Culture for Manchester City Council.

Edith Bowman

Edith Bowman is an award-winning radio broadcaster, podcast host and television presenter. From 2003 to 2014 Edith was one of Radio 1’s lead presenters, starting out co-hosting the Colin And Edith Show with Colin Murray then her own solo weekday afternoon show and on to the Weekend Breakfast Show. Her BBC Radio 1 Review Show won a Sony Gold Award. Her radio career continues and spans both BBC and commercial stations. A huge movie fan and respected film presenter, Edith launched her podcast ‘Soundtracking’ in 2016 and also presents ‘Life Cinematic’ for BBC4 exploring film-making with guests such as Sam Mendes and Sofia Coppola.

Katrina Brown

Founding Director of The Common Guild, a highly respected visual arts organisation based in Glasgow and an experienced curator working with artists both local and international. Previously Curator and Deputy Director of Dundee Contemporary Arts, Katrina began her career as a committee member at Transmission Gallery, Glasgow (1992 – 1994).

Suhair Khan

Currently based in London, Suhair works on strategy at Google. Last year she founded Open/Ended Design, a new platform for conversations in design, tech and culture. Her work in technology has been at the intersection of creativity, culture and design. Over the last decade at Google she has been involved in the development of Google’s self-driving car, Waymo; building a new data-driven sustainability platform for the global fashion industry; and leading numerous successful global initiatives and partnerships at Google Arts & Culture.

Thomas J Price

Born in London in 1981, Price studied at Chelsea College of Art, followed by the Royal College of Art and is a previous recipient of the Arts Council England Helen Chadwick Fellowship. Price has recently been selected to create an ambitious public artwork to be unveiled in 2022 commemorating the Windrush generation in Hackney. Selected solo exhibitions have been held at prestigious institutions including The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, (Canada) the National Portrait Gallery (London), Royal Academy of Arts (London), Mac Birmingham (UK), Royal College of Art (London), Harewood House (UK) and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (UK).

Art Fund Museum of the Year

Art Fund has supported Museum of the Year since 2008. Its forerunner was the Prize for Museums and Galleries, administered by the Museum Prize Trust and sponsored by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation from 2003-2007. The prize champions what museums do, encourages more people to visit and gets to the heart of what makes a truly outstanding museum. The judges present the prize to the museum or gallery that has shown how their achievements of the preceding year stand out, demonstrated what makes their work innovative, and the impact it has had on audiences.

Winners 2008 – 2021:

2008 – The Lightbox, Woking

2009 – Wedgwood Museum, Stoke-on-Trent

2010 – Ulster Museum, Belfast

2011 – British Museum

2012 – Royal Albert Memorial Museum

2013 – William Morris Gallery, London

2014 – Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield

2015 – Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester

2016 – Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), London

2017 – The Hepworth, Wakefield

2018 – Tate St Ives

2019 – St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff

In a unique edition of the prize in 2020, Art Fund responded to the unprecedented challenges that all museums faced by sharing the prize money equally between five winners: Aberdeen Art Gallery; Gairloch Museum; Science Museum; South London Gallery; and Towner Eastbourne.

About Art Fund

Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. It provides millions of pounds every year to help museums to acquire and share works of art across the UK, further the professional development of their curators, and inspire more people to visit and enjoy their public programmes. In response to Covid-19 Art Fund has made £3.6 million in urgent funding available to support museums through reopening and beyond, including Respond and Reimagine grants to help meet immediate need and reimagine future ways of working. Art Fund is independently funded, supported by the 130,000 members who buy the National Art Pass, who enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places, 50% off major exhibitions, and receive Art Quarterly magazine. Art Fund also supports museums through its annual prize, Art Fund Museum of the Year.