Brunel's historic steamship, the ss Great Britain, has won the Gulbenkian Prize for museums and galleries.
The ss Great Britain's restoration has been recognised
The dockyard attraction, which recently underwent an £11.3m revamp, has been awarded £100,000.
It beat off competition from London's Hunterian Museum, the Yorkshire Sculpture Garden and The Collection, a museum tracing the history of Lincoln.
Last year's Gulbenkian Prize was won by The Big Pit, a mining museum in Blaenavon, south Wales.
Professor Robert Winston, chairman of the judging panel, said: "The ss Great Britain got our unanimous vote for being outstanding at every level.
"It combines a truly groundbreaking piece of conservation, remarkable engineering and fascinating social history plus a visually stunning ship above and below the water line.
"Most importantly, the ss Great Britain is accessible and highly engaging for people of all ages."
The ss Great Britain was the world's first propeller-driven ocean-going steamship.
Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, she was launched from Jefferies Dock in Bristol in 1843, and served as a liner, an emigrant ship taking travellers to Australia, and a troop carrier during the Crimean War.
However, a fire on board near the Falkland Islands in 1886 damaged her beyond repair, and she was condemned to use as a floating woolshed before being scuttled in 1937.
In 1970, the ship, then little more than a rusted hulk, was salvaged and towed back across the Atlantic to Bristol.
Since then, it has been moored in dry dock in the city while conservation work to repair the damage was carried out.
Last year the £11.3m project was completed, and the ship now rests in a glass 'sea', with visitors able to view it from above and below.