An Isambard Brunel steamship, medical artefacts, an underground gallery, and a collection of treasures are up for the UK's biggest arts prize.
More than £11m has been spent on SS Great Britain
The £100,000 Gulbenkian Prize is given to one museum or gallery every year.
The ss Great Britain in Bristol joins Art and Archaeology in Lincolnshire, The Hunterian Museum in London and Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Wakefield.
The winner in 2005 was the preserved coal mine Big Pit: National Mining Museum of Wales.
The four were whittled down from a list of 10, which included the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea, Concorde at the Museum of Flight in Edinburgh, and the new Roald Dahl Museum.
Since it was towed back from the Falkland Islands to its original dry dock in Bristol in 1970, £11.3m has been spent preserving the ss Great Britain.
It reopened last summer complete with the captain's gold ring and climbable crow's nest. The world's first iron-hulled, steam-powered ocean-going ship is today recognised as one of the technological forerunners of modern shipping.
The Hunterian Museum in London, is short-listed thanks to a £3.1m project to renew the permanent galleries of the world's oldest and most important medical collection.
The collection of 18th century surgeon John Hunter, the pioneer of a new style of scientific surgery, is at the heart of the museum, which spans 200 years of medicine, natural history and the arts.
The £2.75m creation of an Underground Gallery put the Yorkshire Sculpture Park on the list.
It is tucked beneath the sloping lawns of the 18th century Bothy Garden to protect the celebrated landscape above.
A new £12.5m museum displaying fine art and artefacts from Roman, Viking and Medieval eras in Lincoln is also on the shortlist, thanks to local residents.
The Art and Archaeology collection in Lincolnshire was set up after they lobbied councillors to build a new museum to house over two million archaeological objects.
Gulbenkian chair of the judges, the scientist and broadcaster Lord Robert Winston, said: "Those chosen all show innovation, variety and excitement, and each is devoted to a special area of importance but with wide interest.
"This remarkable shortlist shows that the museum world in Britain is truly vibrant and alive."
The winner will be announced on 25 May at the Royal Institute of British Architects.