Museum of the Year: Art Fund reveals village museum will take on the Tate Britain for the title

Chair of judges says 2013 was a 'strong year, by any standards'

The Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft, a small site honouring local East Sussex artists from the 20th century, is to go head to head with Tate Britain for the title of Museum of the Year.

The museum in the village of Ditchling was founded in 1984 by sisters Hilary and Joanna Bourne to honour the community of artists and craftsmen who had lived and worked there. It reopened in September after a major redevelopment that “now offers the rare experience of seeing objects in the village in which they were created”.

The Art Fund revealed this evening revealed that Ditchling was one of the six museums nominated for the prize, which comes with a cheque for £100,000.

Tate Britain was hailed for the overhaul of the oldest part of its Grade II* listed building, described as a “significant moment for the gallery,” as well as the chronological rehang of its work.

The project to overhaul Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, which reopened in May, was praised as the “fulfilment of the ambitions of thousands who have worked on the project” while the judges said 2013 had been an “exceptional year” for fellow nominee the Hayward Gallery.

The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich, which completed a two-year strategic plan last year, and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Wakefield, which had its busiest year, are also in the running. The winner will be announced at the National Gallery on 9 July. 

Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar, who is also chairing the judges, said 2013 was a “strong year, by any standards, for UK museums”.

The Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year was established over a decade ago, previously called the Gulbenkian Prize, to recognise “the very best of the UK’s internationally acclaimed museums”.

Previous winners include the William Morris Gallery in London, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter and the British Museum.

The four-strong panel of independent judges included artist Michael Craig-Martin and Wim Pijbes, director of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

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