Page last updated at 11:09 GMT, Monday, 17 May 2010 12:09 UK

Ulster Museum shortlisted for top award

art zone Ulster Museum
The top floor Art Zone is just one of the Ulster Museum's eight galleries

The Ulster Museum in Belfast has been short-listed for the UK's largest single arts prize.

The Art Fund Prize annually awards £100,000 to a museum or gallery for a project completed in the last year.

News of the shortlisting follows the announcement that the museum has lifted a prestigious award for the best permanent exhibition in the UK.

The museum is the only one of four in the UK to be short-listed for the Art Fund Prize.

The judging panel, which included broadcaster, Kirsty Young, visited the Ulster Museum in April.

Since reopening last October, the museum has become Northern Ireland's busiest tourist attraction with current visitor numbers standing at more than 355,000.

Dr Jim McGreevy of National Museums Northern Ireland, said the museum had attracted "fabulous support from many visitors and via the online vote".

The online voting is now open again and we encourage everyone to add their voice to our shared bid to bring this prize to Northern Ireland
Dr Jim McGreevy
National Museums Northern Ireland

"We are grateful for the enthusiasm of the Northern Ireland public in helping get us to the final shortlist," Dr McGreevy said.

"The online voting is now open again and we encourage everyone to add their voice to our shared bid to bring this prize to Northern Ireland."

The other contenders for the prize are: the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; Blists Hill Victorian Town, Ironbridge; and the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.

Kirsty Young, who is chairing the judging panel, said they had a very challenging task to select only four entrants for the shortlist.

"Our visits have been eye-opening and the exceptional quality of the long list has meant that we've been spoilt for choice," she said.

"During our deliberations, the judges' passion and enthusiasm for the museums and galleries was more than evident."

A public poll taken into consideration by the judges in making their decision has now re-open for the short list stage.

The public can vote on-line for the Ulster Museum by visiting www.artfundprize.org.uk/vote

The winner will be announced on 30 June.

Meanwhile, the Ulster Museum has won first prize in the permanent exhibition section of the annual Museums and Heritage Awards in London.

The museum beat off stiff opposition from the Natural History Museum, the Victoria and Albert and the Ashmolean Museum.



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